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Wrong Turn Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Signature Entertainment

article-cover

Directed by Mike P. Nelson
Written by Alan B. McElroy
2021, 89 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Released on 26th February 2021

Starring:
Charlotte Vega as Jen Shaw
Emma Dumont as Milla D'Angelo
Matthew Modine as Scott
Daisy Head as Edith

Review:

Lost in the woods, a pretty diverse group of pretty, diverse friends fall prey to an ancient society of mountain men, set on hunting down and punishing the young trespassers. Sound familiar? Well, it should. But hopefully not too familiar. Much has changed since 2003’s Wrong Turn, and inbred hillbillies are now old hat. Human meat may be off the menu for the mountain-dwelling monsters of Mike P. Nelson’s reboot, but there’s still plenty wrong with them.

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Worried dad Scott (Matthew Modine) discovers this for himself, investigating the disappearance of daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega). The story follows both parties as they attempt to navigate the Appalachian Trail; beset by lethal traps, vicious locals and an unforgiving landscape. Hitting the reset button after six movies worth of hillbilly cannibals, Nelson’s jarring reboot is more The Ritual than Wrong Turn as we knew it. What, no Three-Finger?

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Which is no bad thing – this is the franchise’s freshest entry since 2003, and easily the most accomplished film in the series. And I say that as perhaps the biggest Wrong Turn fan that I know. Action fans have The Fast and the Furious – Wrong Turn was my big, dumb franchise, and I loved each and (almost) every entry, through and through. Its story is new and unpredictable, twisting and turning in ways the series never has before (although it came close previously, with the off-kilter, unloved Last Resort). Cannibals or no, this reboot is cause for celebration. Longtime fans and purists may baulk at the lack of over-the-top ugly mutants, but Nelson’s antagonists are scary in their own way. And it even has a proper name actor (with no disrespect to Dushku, Bradley or Rollins) in Matthew Modine, as the determined-but-dim dad caught up in it all. Other characters fare less well. The overly aggressive idiot white guy sticks out like a sore thumb amongst his racially and sexually diverse, right-on friends – an archetype no modern teen horror film can be without, following Midsommar.

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But the film is well-led by Vega and Modine. And once the killing starts? It’s Wrong Turn with polish and a thin veneer of respectability - but doesn’t shy away from the series’ history of extreme bloodshed and violence. Nelson and writer Alan B. McElroy (screenwriter of the original film!) do some genuinely unexpected things here; not only by the franchise's standards but also for the subgenre at large.

Sure, it goes on for too long (109 minutes for a Wrong Turn film?), with one hard-to-swallow twist too many, but it’s an enjoyable ramble. This is a bold new direction for the franchise… but by no means the wrong one.

Grades:

Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Writer
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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