By James Secker
Back in 2003 we were introduced to a group of inbred, cannibalistic mountain men in the ultra-violent Wrong Turn. It spawned five direct-to-video sequels – ranging from the surprisingly enjoyable (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End) to the downright terrible (Wrong Turn VI: Last Resort). This slasher franchise was in dire need of a revamp so it’s great to see original creator Alan B. McElroy returning to writing duties for Wrong Turn (2021) and he’s brought director Mike P. Nelson along for the ride.
A chaotic fight for survival befalls a group of friends on the Appalachian trail in this iconic franchise reboot. When a dream trip turns into a nightmare, one group of friends finds themselves at the mercy of an urban legend – The Foundation. As a freak accident drives the group deeper into the mountains, they find themselves succumbing one by one to hunting traps large enough to take out anyone that dares venture off the beaten path. The group soon realises they are not alone and what happens next escalates into a gruesome game of survival, as those who called the mountain home respond to this outside threat with their own swift and brutal justice.
It’s difficult to make an effective horror set primarily in the woods without letting the proceedings get stale and it is a testament to the stylish direction of Mike P. Nelson for making something fresh and exciting out of an exhausted genre. The cast all do a great job here of bringing their characters to life but it’s Charlotte Vega and Matthew Modine as Jen and Scott Shaw that really win you over. It’s always great to see Modine sink his teeth into a project and he really shines here as a man on a mission to find his daughter, no matter the cost. The brilliant Bill Sage appears mid-way through as the leader of The Foundation. Funnily enough he also turned up in another deep south remake, the tremendous We Are What We Are. As menacing as his character is here, I just wish he was given more to do with the role.
There’s a decent amount of violence and mayhem on display, it’s all used sparingly and wisely with mostly practical effects. Wrong Turn (2021) is not the splatterfest fans thought it would be but there’s some vicious traps, eye removals, headshots and more to satisfy the gorehounds.
This is definitely a film of two halves. Drastically shifting genres around an hour in with a genuinely intriguing twist which breathes new life into the film and keeps the momentum going. It’s going to make or break your viewing experience for sure but it’s a brave move on the writer’s part to detour so far from the well trodden path.
Wrong Turn (2021) is an ambitious and entertaining re-imagining that dares to do something different – and mostly succeeds.
UK Home Premiere on Digital Platforms 26th February and Blu-Ray & DVD 3rd March from Signature Entertainment.