Chris Finn is headed for a job interview and is out on the road of the Appalachian Hills in West Virginia, until he gets lost. He enters upon a deserted back road where he crashes into a car and meets five hikers who are also lost. When they go to search for help, they’ll discover they’re being hunted by three skilled deformed freaks who want them for supper. Despite bombing at the box-office and receiving mostly negative reviews from critics, I was surprised that this wasn’t a horrible movie; as a matter of fact this is really creepy and entertaining… and almost underrated. This reminded me of the slew of psychotic hillbilly flicks that have been released over the years, but even though this is routine in its scares and plot, it’s entertaining and never lets go with its thrills and chills.
What’s best about this film is that the characters are likable, which makes the movie and their deaths more resonant. Advertisements and posters pretty much describe this as an Eliza Dushku film, and it’s true that she stars in the movie, but Desmond Harrington should get the credit and top billing; this is his film more than anyone else’s. Desmond is a very underrated actor who was memorable in “Taken” and in here he’s a great character managing pull off the brooding silent hero manner to a “T” while being able to carry this film on his back. His character is cool and admirable and often helps the other characters survive, not to mention he’s believable as a medical student.
Eliza Dushku is good as Jessie Burlingame in her supporting role and adds well as the heroine of the film managing to pull the screams and shrieks off very well, and looks might good in her tightie white tee shirt. Emmanuelle Chriqui is good as Carly who must fight off the creatures and play the helpless damsel in distress routine for all its worth. Great character actor Jeremy Sisto does his best Jeff Goldblum impression as the inept and extremely likable character Scott. Often times he managed to snatch the scenes from the other actors with his inept nice guy routine and it’s a shame he’s underused in this. Lindy Booth and Kevin Zegers as Francine and Evan serve their purposes as solely dispensable characters, but I thought I’d mention Lindy because of her cute role in “Jett Jackson”.
Director Rob Schmidt and the four (count ’em: four) screenwriters pulls out every horror cliché from the horror movie handbook. From the stuff that falls out of a closet causing a scare, to the sudden close-up of a character followed by someone jumping at them on cued with sharp music, to a chase in the woods followed by someone falling, to characters hiding when something makes noise revealing their location, to characters hiding under a bed trying not to get caught, it’s all here. Normally this would bother me so, but it’s dropped onto such entertaining material that it never got on my nerves as much. Special-effects master of such films as “Aliens” and “Predator” chalks up some killer make-up effects for the three freaks “Saw Tooth”, “Three finger”, and “One Eye”, and gives some truly morbid and disgusting features.
The setting for this film is good often depending on the dark and murky woods and a very creepy cabin where the freaks live. It stuck with me and displayed great chills. I didn’t have much of a problem with the clichés, but when the writers began ripping elements from classics like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” it grated on me very much. There’s much elements taken from this and many other films: the car graveyard and the gallery of stolen memento’s from the freaks’ victims is taken from “TCM”; also I’ve grown rather sick of the same old recycled bit where there’s a town of Southern folk who have a natural distaste for “City folk” and either snap at them, or act cold towards them. It’s such a tired routine and bit that didn’t help the film much. We never get much emphases on the hiker’s situation.
We get to learn why the Chris character is on the road and where he’s going, but we never learned or saw the hiker characters before they were stranded. Maybe if they’d been focused on before the story began it would have helped in the impacts of their deaths. Also, Dushku’s character is so paper thin that she was practically an extra; her character is barely focused on in the film considering she’s a co-star and it’s a shame considering Dushku is such a talented actress. Despite its flaws, it gives what it promises: violence, creeps, and solid performances from the great cast resulting in an entertaining guilty pleasure that will kill an hour and a half and leave a smile on your face.
Unfortunately the DVD skimps out on extras with a few documentaries that lack in interest, and two deleted scenes, and one uninteresting screen take with Lindy Booth getting a mouth full of barbed wire.