Wrong Turn is the seventh film in the unlikely horror franchise, which has now come full circle with a reboot that keeps the name of the original film. While serving as both a reboot and continuation of the series, Wrong Turn sadly falls into the trap of being an over-familiar horror film with nothing new to say.
In 2003, writer Alan McElroy scripted the original Wrong Turn starring Eliza Dushku. In the vein of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, a group of good-looking teens were maniacally slaughtered by a group of inbred locals who would happily see off anyone who visited their little part of America. Here, McElroy and director Mike P. Nelson are aiming for loftier heights. Yes, a group of good-looking teens fall victim to the local tribe, and yes they are taken out in some disturbing ways. But, where things vary is that this film features The Foundation – a group of locals who live in the Appalachian mountains, and who have formed their own self-serving community. Here the film sets its stall out, and wants to come off being compared to The Ritual or Midsommar, but has neither the scares or the intelligence of either.
Wrong Turn seems confused as to what it wants to achieve here. There are apparent Trumpisms and views on a wider scale than the average horror film, and yet there are the 70’s style vibes of a community cut-off and who have turned their back on normal civilisation. To be fair, there is nothing at all to say we cannot have both, but the pay-off here feels mechanical and forced. There is no connection to the original film, as memory serves at least, and all attempts seem to want to bring a new dynamic to the franchise. The trouble is, that it all feels hollow. The cast are rather too generic, their millennial status being the only trait that sets them apart. Despite the core cast being an unsympathetic bunch, some fun can be had in guessing the order in which they will be killed, but even that becomes tiresome.
The sense of trepidation never once enters into the film, and any sort of atmosphere is killed early on by a narrative involving Matthew Modine’s Scott looking for his daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega). And even with its obvious flaws, Wrong Turn does have some good moments. Disregarding its lofty ambitions, it rarely feels pretentious. The kills, while not as barbaric as some may think, do deliver on the gore front and a gloriously bleak ending helps to save the film from being truly awful.
Wrong Turn is available on Digital platforms in the U.K now, and will be released on DVD from 3 May.