Perhaps you’ve seen the original Wrong Turn from way back in 2003. Or perhaps you’ve seen 2007’s Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Or maybe you hopped on the bandwagon for Wrong Turns 3-6; Left for Dead, Bloody Beginnings, Bloodlines and Last Resort, respectively.
Like any good horror franchise in the vein of Jason, Freddy, Michael Myers, Final Destination or Jigsaw, the Wrong Turn films just keep coming back for more grotesque butcherings of sex-crazed teenagers who dare to wander off the beaten path. Often times, when seeing another installment released, we may find ourselves quoting the immortal words of Austin Powers; “Why won’t you die?!”
Yeah, So, Wrong Turn … What Is That?
The aforementioned original Wrong Turn was written by Alan. B McElroy and directed by Rob Schmidt. Released in 2003, the film was generally forgettable, except that it starred Eliza Dushku, who is never forgettable. It was so bad that it only spawned five more films; two sequels, two prequels and a soft reboot. The first two films revolve around a group of attractive “teenagers” who take a, you guessed it, wrong turn somewhere in remote West Virginia and are stalked, trapped and murdered by a family of inbred cannibal hillbillies.
The ensuing films in the franchise continue this trend by extending the family, murdering more teenagers, then switching to escaped convicts, then two prequels showing us the origins of the cannibals. Oh yeah, then there’s the soft reboot where one of the teenagers is also one of the cannibals or something. I don’t know, they just kept pumping these things out.
Return Of The McElroy
Franchise creator Alan B. McElroy wasn’t technically involved in any of the projects following the 2003 original. But he has returned to pen this reboot. And when I say reboot, I mean this is a hard reboot. It has little to do with the original or the sequels, save for the fact that the new film features a group of attractive “teenagers” being hunted by hill people.
Whereas 2003’s Wrong Turn was a sign of the times and very much fit the typical mold of an early aughts slasher, the 2021 Wrong Turn truly has grown and matured in the last 18 years. (2003 was 18 years ago you guys).
While the shock and awe of grotesque, deformed killers was the hot item in back in the day (again, the day being 2003), the 2021 audience craves something a little more grounded. Still heightened, but scary in the way of “this could almost be real.”
Enter The Foundation. Our unsuspecting group of (this time) twenty-somethings take a summer trip to the Appalachian Trail for a few weeks of outdoorsy adventure. Only to decide to go off the designated trail (could be considered a wrong turn) in search of a preserved Civil War fort. But instead of finding history, they soon find that they themselves are about to be history.
Stumbling upon a series of snares, traps and other frontier-style spring-loaded stabby things, the refreshingly multi-ethnic group finds that they’ve trespassed upon the land of The Foundation. A group of hill people who are descendants of a community who cut themselves off from the rest of society in the years leading up to the Civil War.
What. Just. Happened?
I soon realized this movie was going to subvert my expectations. While I thought I was sitting down to watch a shitty slasher film about deformed people eaters (that is, deformed people who eat people. Not people who eat deformed people, although I’m sure they wouldn’t be picky at that point).
Not only is the film beautifully shot, and features no music by Breaking Benjamin, but the acting performances are actually good. The writing is clean, the structure is clear, and it twists and turns at the right spots to keep you interested.
Standout performances include Charlotte Vega (Warrior Nun) who carries the film like a pro, supported by the likes of Matthew Modine as her father, and John Sage as the villainous leader John Venable.
Who is this movie for?
Well, it’s an R-rated gory slasher flick with a lot of weird and disturbing semi-euro-tribal imagery, so maybe put the 6-year-old to be before watching. But, if you’re a fan of the genre, this movie is for you. What it lacks in early-2000s over-the-top shock-horror, it makes up for in grounded, well done filmmaking that still holds the spirit of horror/slasher flicks we all know and love.
Now, when I say grounded, do not mistake that to mean tame. There are plenty of skulls getting bashed to a pulp in this movie.
What’s the Best Snack?
Personal opinion? Emma Dumont as the Velma-esque Milla D’Angelo. But in all seriousness, whatever munchies you would typically toss back during a slasher flick, by all means. However, if pulsating brain matter makes your stomach churn, maybe leave the cupboard closed for the evening.
For My Money
Do you like scary movies? What’s your favorite scary movie? Doesn’t matter, you should watch this one.
Now, full transparency; IMDb has 2021’s Wrong Turn sitting at 5.5/10, Rotten Tomatoes has it at 62% and IGN rates it at a 6/10. But I, however, issue a big fat toast with my red party cup to this film. It hit me out of left-field, and I was certainly not expecting to like this movie as much as I did. Hell, I wasn’t expecting to like this movie at all!
Saban Films will release the horror film On Demand, Digital, Blu-ray and DVD on February 23, 2021.
For more on Horror, make sure to stay tuned to That Hashtag Show.