Nearly two decades ago Wrong Turn (2003) was a notable horror film which received many fans by being just that little bit special. After five sequels of rapidly diminishing quality, writer Alan McElroy returns to this franchise with a reboot, joined by director Mike P Nelson who previously worked on The Domestics (2018).
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Instead the opening 40 minutes is more closely inspired by films such as Deliverance (1972) with a group of six friends, nominally led by Jen Shaw (Charlotte Vega) setting off on a hike along The Appalachian Trail. Along the way they decide to take a detour to find a civil war fort, however they stumble upon a commune descended from a group of twelve families who broke away from society in 1859. The following peril is inflected with flashes of influences ranging from The Wicker Man (1973) to The Village (2004). Whilst the story of these friends continues, we are also following the story of a father (Matthew Modine) who is trying to find his daughter six weeks later.
Wrong Turn or Right Turn
Charlotte Vega gives a delightful performance as Jen Shaw, capturing her well as she transitions through the film. It is lovely to see that she is depicted as a strong woman before the encounters which happen on the mountain, rather we follow her as she learns to use that strength to survive different situations. Matthew Modine, by far the most famous actor involved, as her father gives good support as a worried father trying to get help to find his missing child. At times the cinematography of Nick Junkersfeld really got a sense of the beauty and isolation which can be found along The Appalachian Trail whilst also capturing the claustrophobia when the trees close in around you.
Horror movies are meant to scare. An air of trepidation fills the opening of the movie which mounts gradually until, at times, I had to look away or squirm in my seat. It rarely resorted to lazy jump-scares and never shied away from showing flashes of gore when it was necessary, though it never reveled in it. Certainly, in this area it should keep horror fans happy and some people covering their eyes.
Overall, I was pleasantly impressed by this movie. I had been expecting a lazy remake with nothing new to show to the audience other than a few cheap thrills for the younger audience whilst the older audience sat there feeling old, as to them 18 years ago is just yesterday. What I got was a delightful surprise with a fresh turn (no pun intended) from the franchise, good scares and some interesting reference points.
On top of this was a satisfying ending which personally I find very rarely happens in horror movies.
Artwork & Editor: Richard Williams
Images courtesy of Saban Films