Film Review: New ‘Wrong Turn’ Is A Reboot Done Right
by Ben Martin
Of all the movie series that could be rebooted, the Wrong Turn franchise (2003-2014) would have never occurred to be ideal for such treatment. After all, the original Wrong Turn (2003) was nothing more than a mildly entertaining flick that struck me as a diluted version of The Hills Have Eyes (1977), in which deserts were swapped out for mountains. Seeing as that ‘03 original didn’t make much of an impression, I never did see any of the five sequels in the direct-to-video franchise it spawned. To be fair, though, plenty of folks enjoyed this series, and it was very successful for Fox. Despite that success, though, the studio relinquished the rights to Wrong Turn. (Presumably, when they were acquired by Disney a couple of years ago.) As a result, Saban Films acquired the rights to make a reality-rooted reboot penned by none other than the creator of the original; Alan McElroy (Spawn).
Despite being a veteran writer of various types of genre fare, McElroy takes a decidedly more grounded approach to the movie in review. This reboot follows five friends, fresh out of college, who decide to take a hiking trip on the legendary Appalachian Trail. However, things soon go south for the city kids taking a respite in the rural area. After not hearing from his daughter, Jen (Charlotte Vega), Scott (Matthew Modine) heads for the hills for a few days, searching for the hikers. As he asks around about the cast’s whereabouts in the small town near the trail, Scott learns of a local legend of a fringe; antiquated community dubbed “The Foundation”, who may be responsible for the disappearance.
Based on my apathy towards its source material, I initially had no interest in seeing what I thought would be a remake. After learning that this was a reboot receiving positive word of mouth among friends and folks I follow in the horror community, I became interested in taking in another Wrong Turn. It also helps that I wanted to venture out to a theater for a second time post-vaccination. Therefore I figured I’d give this flick a go? And boy, am I glad I did!
I’m very impressed by both what this film is and what it isn’t. That is to say that this iteration of Wrong Turn offers something completely different than its predecessors. For the first half of the runtime, you think you know where it’s going, and then BLAMO! We’re taken into a completely different subgenre of horror! One which has much more depth and disturbing imagery than the cannibalistic hillbilly slasher you might be expecting. Beyond bringing a completely different flavor to the table, this is also a very well-made picture. An authentic atmosphere is created here that hits home if you ever spent any time in nature, specifically up in the mountains.
It’s being drawn in by this environment and tone the movie creates that make the kills so much more brutally satisfying. Of course, it helps that the main (and talented) cast of victims consists of folks who are either likable enough or just too self-righteous for their own good. Hence, when events unfold as they do, their respective fates feel earned. Quite simply, Wrong Turn (2021) is the best horror reboot I’ve seen and one of the stronger ones in general. If, like me, you were going to simply write this movie off, don’t. I think you’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the turns taken here.