James Jay Edwards reviews Wrong Turn, a horror film directed by Mike P. Nelson and written by Alan McElroy, starring Charlotte Vega and Matthew Modine. (Saban Films)
Since its inception in 2003, the Wrong Turn franchise has spawned six movies. In true horror movie form, the successful series has now spawned a reboot.
Wrong Turn is about a father named Scott (Full Metal Jacket’s Matthew Modine) whose daughter, Jen (Charlotte Vega from The Lodgers), goes missing along with five of her friends while hiking the Appalachian Trail. He goes searching for the lost group, subjecting himself to the same dangers that caused them to go missing in the first place.
(Wrong Turn, theatrical release poster, Saban Films)
While this Wrong Turn has little to do with the previous entries in the series, it’s hard to call it a reboot. It’s more of a re-imagining. The general skeleton of the plot is the same—a group of kids gets lost in the woods and has to fight off crazy local denizens to survive. But the threat in this Wrong Turn is different from that in the earlier movies. It’s not just inbred hillbillies. It’s a smarter, more sophisticated threat. Yes, the ambiguity in that statement is intentional. No spoilers here.
The writer of the original movie, Alan B. McElroy (who also wrote Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers) is back for this re-imagining, but fresh blood is injected into the concept by director Mike P. Nelson (The Domestics). Like most horror remakes, it’s a darker, more serious outing than the original. It’s brutal and unflinching, and the horror is presented without even a hint of humor or sarcasm.
(Wrong Turn, Saban Films)
That’s the part about this Wrong Turn that is effective. There’s a sense of realism to it that doesn’t exist in the earlier, campier Wrong Turn movies. Jen and her friends are being hunted, and it’s not just for sport. There are motivations at play that, frankly, are reflective of a lot of what is happening in the country right now. The hunters are people who are fiercely dedicated to protecting their way of life from outside interference. Scott’s desperate hope of finding his daughter before it’s too late only compounds the tension. And it’s chilling.
Wrong Turn is also a bit schizophrenic. The plot unfolds non-linearly, skipping between the exploits of the missing group and Scott’s journey to locate them. It feels like three different movies: part survival thriller, part stalk-and-slasher, and part revenge flick. Only, it’s not in a mashup way. It’s done in more of a “stop on a dime and become a different movie” way. And it does it a lot. It’s full of surprises. Don’t tap out early or you’ll miss something. And honestly, the very last shot of the movie—the one that literally plays out as the closing credits roll—is one of the best moments in the film. But again. No spoilers here.
(Wrong Turn, Saban Films)
It would be a stretch to say that Wrong Turn is breaking any new ground. It’s a lost-in-the-woods-while-a-killer-is-on-the-loose movie. There are some fun wilderness traps, and a few “whoa” moments, but there’s very little that hasn’t been done before. Horror fans will still find it entertaining. And uniqueness is not the point of Wrong Turn anyway. It is, after all, a re-imagining.
Saban Films’ Wrong Turn is out now On Demand, Digital, Blu-ray, and DVD.
Check out the podcast Eye On Horror for more with James Jay Edwards, and also features Jonathan Correia and Jacob Davison.