Wrong Turn Review: Reboot Gets Lost In The Woods
They may be billing the new reboot of the Wrong Turn franchise as horror, but really it’s fantasy. I mean, imagine–you get to leave your home and risk your life. However, unlike the current situation, when you do that for a boring trip to the grocery store, this one lets you see the country. Or a part of the country, at least. Let’s live the dream and review Wrong Turn.
Yes, Babe, I Said “Wrong Turn Reboot”
In case you missed the previous films, or you missed my roundup of social distancing horror movies, then here’s what you need to know. The franchise started with the original Wrong Turn in 2003. As I mentioned in my roundup, it has a fairly simple premise. Young folks go camping, then run into trouble. In fact, much like the Hills Have Eyes movies, the specific trouble is an isolated family with particular tastes. The following–good Lord–FIVE sequels are basically variations on that theme. I mean, as far as I can tell–I saw only the first one.
This new movie, though, is a true reboot. It borrows the name and the vague idea that rural America is terrifying. This one, for instance, takes place on and around the lower part of the Appalachian trail. You can just imagine the kind of eldritch monsters that region of the country produces.
So Who Took The Wrong Turn This Time?
image via Saban Films
Jen (Charlotte Vega), Darius (Adain Bradley), Milla (Emma Dumont), Adam (Dylan McTee), Luis (Adrian Favela), and Gary (Vardaan Arora) are completing a classic rite of passage for adventurous, outdoorsy youths. What’s that, you ask? Well, they’re hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Despite the fact that every time I’ve mentioned it here has been in the service of something terrifying (see also: my Alabama Snake review), Appalachia and the Trail aren’t actually that scary. In fact, it’s pretty darn safe. That is, if you follow common sense guidelines. You know, stuff like not wandering away from the Trail.
If you’ve guessed that this sextet of big city gen Z-ers don’t, in fact, follow these guidelines, then you’re right. It’s clear when they meet the locals that they don’t respect their hard-earned wisdom. These kids have been places, seen things. They know everything. But they don’t know the Foundation, a mountain-based community.
When the kids don’t return, Jen’s dad, Scott (Matthew Modine), comes looking for them. But what will he find?
Wrong Turn Review
image via Saban Films
If you look at Wrong Turn as a straight horror movie, then you might enjoy it. Yes, a lot of the violence happens off-screen, which is kind of a bummer for horror film enthusiasts. That being said, the movie still achieves delectable moments of tension, especially in its first half.
In this way, it’s similar to the films of the same name that preceded it. At their root, they’re all about a clash involving outsiders invading the world of insular locals. It’s a great theme, and one that’s whole enough to stand its ground, just like its characters.
However, this reboot tries to go beyond that simple story, sometimes to its detriment. It seems clear that the folks behind this movie wanted to make a bigger movie, something more akin to the socially-conscious horror flicks that have become de rigueur. It even goes so far as to poke fun at the kind of stories they used to tell, as if to say that this is a new and improved version. The trouble is, by introducing these new themes, they succeed most in making a muddled tale.
It feels like it’s supposed to be metaphorical, for example. But what is the metaphor? Who are these characters–the hiking kids and the Foundation primarily, to say nothing of the townies–supposed to represent? It’s never quite clear, so the movie isn’t as cutting, isn’t as good as it could be. It’s not a failure on the scale of say, Antebellum, but it also doesn’t reach the heights to which it appears to be striving.
There are some great ideas here, including some that play with the idea of identity and shifting morals. If they’d tightened them up just a tad, mainly by sharpening the viewpoint, then this movie might be a new modern classic. As it is, though, it’s mainly a sometimes exciting detour.
Wrong Turn, aka Wrong Turn: The Foundation, will be available on DVD and Bluray (and presumably on demand) on February 23.
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featured image via Saban Films
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.