If you want to see the perils of Internet voting, just visit the Internet Movie Database and check out the impressive 6.1 rating for this film. One imagines director Rob Schmidt calling in one vote for every ass he's kissed in Hollywood, because there's no other explanation for a rating higher than 0.0. There's also no explanation for how this joker actually got hired to direct a movie.
I will say this, though: I do find it believable that the backwoods of West Virginia are populated with freaks. After all, this is the type of culture (along with the fine folks in North Carolina) that spawned the current "Pray for Eric Rudolph" movement. There's a reason they don't spray for vermin in that part of the country -- they'd wipe out most of the population.
Chris Finn (Desmond Harrington) meets a group of friends -- including Jessie (Eliza Dushku), Carly (Emmanuelle Chriqui), Scott (Jeremy Sisto), Francine (Lindy Booth) and Evan (Kevin Zegers) -- when Chris barrels into their SUV, which improbably appears out of nowhere. This clumsy technique is a good indication that the rest of the movie is going to consist largely of characters backing up toward the screen so we can be scared by the sudden appearance of some freak conveniently out of shot. Direction 101: It's actually a lot more frightening to see what's coming and wallow in the helplessness of being unable to stop it.
It would really be nice if a horror film could be written and/or directed by somebody with even a hint of a brain. Pursued by weapons-wielding forest mutants (a procession that bears an uncanny resemblance to a North Carolina white pride parade) the friends hide out in a watch tower that must be 100 feet in the air. Naturally, the mutants climb up the ladder wielding torches. The stupidity here is unbearable. Does anybody just wait until the mutants get about 90 feet up the ladder and then drop a heavy box on them? Of course not. Instead, we get the obligatory scene of the stupid mutant sticking his fingers through the trap door and the friends eventually leaping from the burning watch tower into the trees.
At that point, I began to suspect I was actually watching deleted scenes from the retarded Ewok sequence of "Return of the Jedi." Chris and Jessie go climbing about the trees, 100 feet in the air, on some kind of mysterious branch walkway, then inexplicably end up behind a waterfall. The scene is shot in such poor light that you begin to wonder if the theater projector's lamp is failing. Just for the record, if I ever walk into a broken down house in the middle of nowhere in the woods of West Virginia and it contains plate after plate of rotting food, jars of body parts and a machete, I get the hell out of there and take the machete with me. Enter a theater playing this film and you'll know exactly where your wrong turn occurred.
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