Steve Fesenmaier writes "
For several months local newspapers have been writing about a new Canadian film called
“Wrong Turn.” Directed by Pa. native son Robert Schmidt whose earlier credits include
an episode in the TV series " An American Town," (2001) and “Crime and Punishment in Suburbia” (2000), the film is about (from IMDB),” A carload of six teens find themselves trapped in the woods of West Virginia, hunted down by "cannibalistic
mountain men grossly disfigured through generations of in-breeding." Several years ago
I found a similar film, “Captured Alive” that actually had Pat Morita (of “Karate Kid” fame) in a film about people traveling from Pittsburgh to Atlanta who are shot down with a Civil War era cannon and turned into toxic waste slaves. The IMDB website for “Wrong” lists various comments by people complaining about the film using the most negative stereotypes of our state. I understand of course, but I have to say that who really cares? Do people who watch all of the TV series on crime in NYC really think that the town is just one giant crime wave? John O’Brien, a great WV author, recently wrote an op-ed piece for the May 10th NY Times, blasting the proposed CBS doc series on “The New Beverly Hillbillies.” He rightfully points out that the negative image of Appalachians has been used by the Enron-style companies that have been raping the region for a hundred years. They also use similar stereotypes to rape everyone and everywhere else in the country and world. I know that many natives don’t like films made by in-state people like Daniel Boyd, hating stereotypes like those shown in his last feature, “Paradise Park.” I myself recently commented to the Huntington Herald-Dispatch that even Appalshop’s wonderful films almost always use the same stereotypes, making films about folk artists, coal disasters, and the standard writers of the region, e.g., Harriet Arnow, famous for “The Doll Maker”(that was turned into a great made-for-tv movie starring Jane Fonda in her one such role.) Why, I have always asked since I came to WV, don’t people make films about contemporary-style Appalachian geniuses like Allen Toney of Appalachian native Hunter S. Thompson? Luckily, filmmakers like B.J. Gudmundsson and Ray Schmitt have come along and made films about truly heroic natives of our state like the people of the Galford Lumber Co. who helped save New England and Jim Clark, world-class outdoor photographer? Robert Gates, like Appalshop, has focused on stereotypic topics like disasters, folk musicians and instrument makes. I look forward to seeing “Wrong Turn” because one of the best young actresses, Eliza Dushku, is starring and a world-class film production company co-owned by Stan Winston (“Edward Scissorhands’) made the film. Other horrormeisters who worked on such classics as “Spawn” and “Resident Evil” are part of the team.
I am sure that Canada has lots of places known for being “in-bred”, etc. Probably someone connected to the film is from WV. In any case, I wouldn’t get too upset about the film. I know that Gov. Underwood’s press secretary did two stories about “Matewan” because he thought that the film gave people “the wrong impression” of the state. I myself would like to see a film about cannibalistic, in-bred bureaucrats who hide behind their desks and destroy whatever good work is produced by WV’s many fine artists, writers, etc.By the way, the film was actually shot in Toronto and Dundas, Ontario.