Mike P Nelson (director)
26 February 2021 (released)
26 February 2021
It was 2003 when Wrong Turn was released featuring Eliza Dushku on an upward curve fresh from Buffy and Angel. Directed by Rob Schmidt and written by Alan B McElroy, it was a par for the course rural horror of city kids lost in the forest against inbred mountain types. It was no great shakes but successful enough to warrant a sequel then that getting out of control, as tends to happen. As many more or less successful horror franchises are now getting the reboot treatment it’s no surprise that Wrong Turn is too.
It’s fair to ponder that with a title like Wrong Turn the writer and filmmaker has plenty of options. Why stick to the forest when a wrong turn anywhere could lead to trouble. Most cities have a few areas like that. As it is original writer McElroy and director Mike P Nelson stick with mountains and forests but a few things have changed.
But before we get to that there’s little change in the original premise of friends lost on a forested mountain with unfriendly locals. What is introduced is parental concern with Scott (Matthew Modine) looking for his daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega) who has been offline for around six weeks.
Going back those six weeks Jen and pals are touring around rural America stopping at local eateries and winding up locals with their condescension.
Warned to stay on the trail, they go off it as the the group begin to squabble they are attacked which leads to them breaking up. The remainder find a place for the night only to wake up and find their mobiles stolen and that the slept in a graveyard.
One of the lost members is booby trapped and spotted being carried by two men dressed head to foot in grass leading them to attack and kill one. More traps and killings lead to capture and then taken to a fortified camp. It's a settled community that appear to have Nordic or Scandinavian origins and are led by Venable (Bill Sage) and over time has developed its own justice system.
A system that puts them on trial resulting in a brutal eye for an eye verdict, with the surviving group given a number of options. All the while Scott is making his way towards them.
So the core of the original story is maintained. The introduction of a more sophisticated villain and society is interesting, and welcome actually giving us some scope for thought. The writer has used the Foundation to reflect on current society. McElroy manages to instil some understanding possibly even sympathy with the Foundation because of the actions of the outsiders, at first.
But before we get too carried away with the social anthropology this is a horror film and it delivers hard as you would expect. It is nasty at times, though some is left to the imagination as its off camera. The characters don’t deviate to far from the usual stereotypes and the actors are ok without really busting a gut.
The various twists and turns aren’t complicated by the non-linear timeline although at one hour fifty minutes it’s a bit too long. Sage is a convincing sociopathic head of the Foundation with some gravitas though his menace is diluted by his creepiness later on in the film.
Wrong Turn premieres in the UK on Digital Platforms from 26 February and Blu-Ray & DVD 3 May.