With Wrong Turn 5, director and writer Declan O’Brien (Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead, Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, Sharktopus) returns to the helm of his third film in the franchise, with Doug Bradley (best known for his role of “Pinhead” in the Hellraiser films) in a pivotal role. Camilla Arfwedson, Roxanne McKee, Simon Ginty, Oliver Hoare, Amy Lennox, Duncan Wisbey, Kyle Redmond-Jones, Peter Brooke, Emilia Klayn, Rosie Holden and Andrew Bone round out the cast.
“In the next chilling chapter of ‘Wrong Turn,’ a small West Virginia town is hosting the legendary Mountain Man Festival on Halloween, where throngs of costumed partygoers gather for a wild night of music and mischief. But an inbred family of hillbilly cannibals kill all the fun when they trick and treat themselves to a group of visiting college students who are dying for a good time.”
A few weeks ago I visited the set in Sofia, Bulgaria and came back with some thoughts on the production – not to mention a bunch of pics! I’ve also included the first installment of my video interview with Declan O’Brien at the very bottom – if you’re a fan of the franchise you won’t want to miss it. Hit the jump to check out Part One…
I arrive in Sofia, Bulgaria around 11PM. My crime? Actually getting some sleep on the plane. I knew I was screwed. I meet the journalist from the only other US outlet visiting the film’s set in baggage claim and our driver picks up shortly thereafter. I’ve been told that this is a rare occurrence – but wild dogs are roaming outside the city’s airport.
I arrive at the hotel at around midnight, and I think I’m exhausted. Turns out I’m either wrong or my circadian rhythm is completely out of whack because I’m unable to sleep. At all. That sleep I got on the plane? Yeah, I should have played Angry Birds or watched “We Bought A Zoo” or something because it robbed me of pretty much any sleep I would get for the next few days. By the time I’m finally able to close my eyes and settle into something that tantalizingly resembles rest, the sun is shining through the window.
I go downstairs and hit the hotel gym, reasoning that I could perhaps exhaust myself into taking a nap before I have to be onset at 6PM. The workout goes fine, but the napping does not. So I head out into the streets of Sofia, which are actually quite pretty and which I will unfortunately only spend 2 hours total roaming during the entire course of my trip. But it’s all good, there are more interesting things to see.
The hours of the day fly by until I find myself in the hotel lobby at 5PM. The other journalist and I are led into a van along with some of the actors from the film. Rosie Holden (who plays Ginny in the film), Andrew Bone (who plays George) and Emilia Klayn (who plays Kaleen). Once we disembark, our van cruises down the Bulgarian highway with alarming speed. I hear the other journalist mention something about having a daughter and wanting to see her again some day, but apparently this is fairly par for the course in the country. Once we’re in the countryside and the intensity and speed of the journey have subsided, friendly off-the-record chit chat with the actors ensues and the ride becomes quite pleasant.
About 30 miles out of town, we arrive at the film’s set. A vast soundstage in pretty much the middle of nowhere that also is home to an exterior lot. Think of it as a miniature version of the Universal or Warner Brothers lots, where almost everything you’d need for a shoot is right there at your disposal. Dozens of extras are milling about, waiting to be made up as West Virginian townsfolk. After all, the backdrop for Wrong Turn 5 is the “legendary Mountain Man music festival”, and a festival needs its attendees.
I make my way past the extras and inside the soundstage, which – on the day I visited – houses two absolutely gore-drenched sets from the film. The first of which is a police station with a blood-soaked jail cell (blood all over the walls) in which clearly something has not gone to plan. The second set is One Eye, Saw Tooth and Three Finger’s cabin, which is strewn with body parts. Not just the occasional limb, but limbs everywhere. Rusty tools that have been put to malevolent use. Legs on hooks. Entirely desiccated torsos. Jugs with brown water, buzzing with live flies. It looks pretty rank (and pretty great) – but smells comparatively sanitary – which is sort of an odd combination.
I head outside from the sets and into the studio’s exterior backlot, which seems to be more or less on par with many of the backlots I’ve visited in the US. It might lack some of the scope and sprawl of those locations, but it certainly reads on camera. I snap a few pictures as the crew does some last minute prep for the night’s shoot and the extras are wrangled into place. I then head over to video village where I say “Hi” to the film’s writer and director, Declan O’Brien. We chat for a bit about the shoot and Sofia in general and agree to do an interview later in the cannibals’ shack.
I grab a folding chair and chat with Rosie Holden, who is now in makeup. Her character Ginny is the production assistant to uber-b*tch reporter Kaleen. “I’m the long suffering assistant“, she remarks. “The first scene we’re shooting is the opening of the film where Kaleen is doing a news report for the festival and gets mad at Ginny.” That scene has to be shot before the sun goes down. What scene is she shooting afterwards? “That’s after Kaleen has gone missing and I have to fill in for her. There’s a party that’s spilled out onto the street and I’m interviewing the people from the festival. In doing that, I accidentally grab one of the murderers and try to interview him.”
I approach Emilia Klayn, who is still in the process of getting made up, and suggest that her character seems to be, at least in part, modeled on Gale Weathers from Scream. She nods, “Yeah. That’s exactly what I thought. It’s what I aspire to. An aggressive news woman. The b*tch comes out.” Looking at the script, her character suffers somewhat of a protracted death scene later on. “Yeah that was painful. We already shot that. It was pretty exciting and challenging and required a lot of blood and guts.”
I take a seat in my folding chair as O’Brien begins to work with the extras. This is indeed the first scene of the film that they’re shooting today (naturally they’re filming out of sequence) and after setting up an establishing crane shot he moves in to work with his actors and the extras. He even auditions an expert nose-picker on the spot and inserts a little boy no older than 7 by Klayn’s side. His orders? To dig for gold and annoy her character as much as possible while she tries to maintain composure for the camera.
O’Brien calls “action!” and extras start their business while Klayn’s Kaleen struggles to get through her news report (while simultaneously berating Ginny and her cameraman George). Wrong Turn 5 takes place between the events of Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings and the original 2003 film. I’m worried that a lot of the extras will be whipping out their cell phones during the shot but, thankfully, they’re well behaved.
The boy whom O’Brien chose to pick his nose throughout the scene has quickly become a favorite on set, and O’Brien invites him over to video village to watch the filming and hang out. An excitable kid, he quickly begins calling “action” (mostly during at the wrong times) and even critiquing which takes of any given performer’s are better than the other. O’Brien is patient with the kid, but eventually the youngster’s curiosity gets the better with him and he starts mashing the keys on the cinematographer’s notebook. At that point, he has to go.
Klayn, who is a Sofia native and has had many parts in the local productions that film at this particular studio, nails her lines within a few takes and we move on. Even though the two scenes that Holden mentioned are being shot tonight, they’re not the only two scenes. The schedule on this film is fairly tight and O’Brien and the crew need to have the wherewithal to know when they’ve got what they need and move on. They hit the requirements for the scene just before sundown.
After night falls, it’s time to shoot the companion piece to the opening scene. It’s later in the evening, the news van set-up is the same. Only now, Kaleen is missing. Since the Mountain Man music festival in the film takes place around Halloween, many of the revealers are dressed in costumes (in fact, O’Brien had to nix a guy in a Scream mask earlier out of fear of copyright infringement). Seeing valuable B-roll fly by, cameraman George thrusts Ginny behind a mic and in front of the camera in order to interview the townsfolk. She’e extremely trepidatious, “I can’t.” He replies, “You can and you will. We’re not going to have dead air on my watch.”
Ginny gets behind the mic and approaches various festival attendees, trying to get them to comment on their outfits. The first person she grabs is our contest winner, Renee Johnson. Ginny asks, “are you excited for the festival?” Johnson replies, “Yeah. It’s going to be great!” With that, Johnson struts off and Ginny scrambles for someone else to pull in front of the camera.
Who does she grab? Three Finger, of course. “Can you tell us where you got your outfit? You look amazing.” Three Finger stares her down, which might be genuinely unsettling not only for Ginny but also for Holden playing her. Three Finger finally lets loose in a calking laugh and shambles off without a care in the world, leaving Ginny shaken. “That guy was creepy“, she tells George. “Realistic but creepy.”
And boom! That’s a wrap on Rosie Holden for the night. Actually, that’s a wrap on her for the picture in general. But even though it’s dark, there’s a lot left to shoot. Lots of blood (and guts) will be spilled before the night is over. In the meantime, it’s time for dinner and there’s Bulgarian catering to be had. It’s delicious, but you try eating when these two are sitting next to you.
Stay tuned for PART TWO of our report which features an elaborate kill scene, an interview with Roxanne McKee (who plays Lita in Wrong Turn 5 and is also featured on “Game Of Thrones”) as well as the second half of our interview with writer/director Declan O’Brien (in which he talks the possibility of Wrong Turn 6). We’ll also be capping it off with some behind the scenes video from the shoot!
Here’s the first half of my interview with O’Brien. Conducted inside the Cannibals’ shack of course.