Movie Review: ‘Wrong Turn’ 2021

Director: Mike P. Nelson

Cast: Charlotte Vega, Matthew Modine, Bill Sage, Daisy Head

Plot: A group of obnoxious teenagers get lost hiking in the Virginian mountains and run afoul of some locals. Months later, the father of one of the missing teens sets out to find them.

Review: Wrong Turn, otherwise known as Wrong Turn 7 and Wrong Turn: The Foundation, is a sequel and reboot of the mostly straight-to-video horror franchise Wrong Turn. The six films in that series revolves around encounters with an inbred, mutated, cannibalistic psychopaths in the American backwoods. They’re most in it for the ridiculous gore and carry little message apart from staying away from inbred, mutated, cannibalistic psychopaths. This all raises the question of why this comes under the same franchise banner aside from marketing reasons, as the distinctive features of those previous films are absent.

After the standard set-up, with a bit more focus given to the future victims being assholes, our teens head into the woods, ignore all the advice they were given and find the evil mountain people. Rather than mutant maniacs we now have a settlement of multicultural folk whose ancestors fled into the mountains to avoid the American Civil War and never came back. Putting aside the massive plot holes this opens up, the mountain people aren’t here to kill, eat or otherwise threaten the interlopers. The conflict isn’t born out of a desperate need to survive but a silly misunderstanding. Rather than being hunted by deformed monsters looking to rip them apart, the teens are instead sent to mountain man court to be put on maintain man trail. Eventually a couple of them avoid execution by negotiating to stay as new members of the settlement.

When the father – Modine in old man rage mode – follows the trail to the mountain settlement he is shocked to find the teens acting as loyal members of the settlement. Now it’s worth noting that the movie begins with a prologue of the father searching for the teens before going to a flashback…so why not use the reveal of the teens living with the mountain men as a plot twist? Leave their fate in the courts unknown and make it a surprise that they’ve changed allegiance and the audience will be uncertain as to what’s happened. This movie goes out of its way to take away any surprise or intrigue by showing us too much information.

This happens again at the end, with the directing trying desperately to pull the rug out from under us multiple times in a single scene. First the villains turn up in a place you don’t expect them, then the main character responds in a surprisingly violent manner, only this is a dream and she responds in a different surprising manner only for that to be revealed as a trap that only plays out over the end credits.

The director has done a fairly good job of filming the photogenic locations and building a bit of suspense. There’s some great imagery and some good attention to details. The skull-headed mountain look cool (until they take of their masks and reveal that at least one person in the settlement is a professional hair stylist). There’s a misguided attempt to surprise us with a twist, but they attempt this is the wrong way and at the wrong time. Aside from the brand name attached there’s little to recommend here.

Rating: FOUR out of TEN