The Village meets TAKEN in this loose and we mean very loose remake of the popular 2003 hit that may surprise a few fans…..
Let’s put it out there and say that despite how popular the franchise has become, the original Wrong Turn wasn’t exactly a ground breaking scare fest that broke the mould for the horror genre on its release.
What was basically a Hills Have Eyes rip off, the 2003 release came out at the time when the 90’s vibe of teen horror was coming to an end and the horror crowd was all set to embark on torture porn thanks to Paxton, Josh and Oli arriving at a Hostel and with Wes Craven’s own original inbred murderous folk being lined up for its own remake, Wrong Turn was a mixture of teenage scares and the first glimpses of gore that would result in the rest of the noughties being awash with blood and limbs.
With the figure of Eliza Dushku on the poster, enticing fans who loved her as Faith in Buffy, the film became a massive crowd favourite and as expected, spawned numerous sequels with the second, rightly considered as one of the best follow ups in horror, with many fans even putting it above the very film that started the chaos.
Like many franchises, with each entry, the quality dipped and yet each title became a popular seller on the VOD market and with fans hoping for the further adventures of Three Finger and his merry man, as its 2021, instead of a Part 7, we now get the standard remake which may well carry the film’s title to entice the loyal fanbase, but this instalment is a total different beast to what you may be expecting.
To be fair as its written by original series scribe Alan McElroy, then you can see why this is not some half hearted attempt to keep the brand going – yes we are looking at you Hellraiser-. but the way it takes….and yes we will say it…..a wrong turn with its standard plotline, may disappoint those looking for their standard fix of inbred cannibals, but as this attempt is bold enough not to recycle the same old standard storyline, then for me personally, I can only admire the attempt on show.
While the general set up is as old as the hills on display, from the off you’ll find that this is a different beast to what went on before. We start with a frantic father Scott (Matthew Modine), trying this best Liam Neeson impression, looking for his missing daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega) and her friends, in a town where you half expect Leatherface to turn up with a chainsaw in hand. The ominous glances, the deft warnings, there is a dark secret among the residents of this deep rooted place, somewhere in Virginia and it may have something to do with what’s happening deep within the surrounding forest!
We then skip back six weeks and we the viewer see what actually happened to Jen and her boyfriend Darius (Adain Bradley) and their fellow friends that include The Gifted’s Emma Dumont as Milla, who after spending a night in the same town, decide to go for a trek, ignoring the American Werewolf In London style warnings to “Stay on the track”, instead venturing further into the woods, where as they hum the words “If we go down to the woods today”….they’ll sure of a big surprise! OK! That did not quite happen, but a surprise most definitely awaits!
A startling tree trunk rolling down the hill set-piece, sets the mood up lovely, more so as director Mike P. Nelson at times creates an eerie atmosphere, with a tent, a shadow and a stroke of lightening proving he does have a knack in delivering a good standard horror cliché and while the horror geek inside you will appreciate the slash style build up, I am guessing its here that that this loose re-boot will lose the core Wrong Turn audience.
Instead of an inbred family who love to feed on human flesh, this new direction offers up “The Foundation,” A Skull animal wearing cult who have lived like they are starring in a bad M. Night Shyamalan movie up in the mountains since the 19th century, disease free, with their own set of rules, who don’t take kindly to visitors setting foot onto their land.
Its here that the chunky dialogue threatens to bring the whole new concept down, with McElroy at odds in what he is trying to say about the new threat. In one scene, the plot wants us to think that its the young gang themselves, with their attitude and of of haste that has caused the danger they are in, especially with a “court scene”, but that only really infuriates the viewer as it at odds of what we have seen before, in which this “cult” have clearly targeted this group, way before they took that “wrong turn”.
Despite their morals and code which they happily to spout about, they nothing more than selfish murderous liars, which proves even living apart from the majority of the human race, for over 100 years, you’ll still have many of the human traits and if you evil….you evil right?
But apart from those fleeting moments, there is a surprisingly amount of good stuff happening that made me more than happy that this versions exists, because unlike most remakes, at least this bravely decides to do something different. Wrong Turn 2021 does not bother with gratuitous bloodshed, just glimpses and it bravely at times uses the power of the imagination that works beautifully within the film. For example “The Dark” a punishment instead of death that The Foundation dish out, a delicious and evil creation that if you unfortunate to end up there, it will no doubt make you wish for a tea party with Three Finger and his family.
With Bill Sage a formable presence as the leader of this cult and with Vega’s Jen offering up a great female character, the final act flips its own concept by moving away from the standard expectancy, by offering a new kind of finale, that nearly ruins the good work with a cheap and unnecessary fake cop-out, but then beautifully redeems itself as the final credits roll.
And its that final 10 minutes that sums up this whole new chapter in the much loved franchise. In that its brave in trying something new and while many parts does not quite work, when it does, you’ll find yourself sitting there enthralled at what is coming your way.
The biggest aspect going against this film is the title. Why they could not just make this as a single horror flick is beyond me, but I am assuming the brand WRONG TURN will sell the much needed copies, but devotees who have stuck through some horrendous sequels and yet still looked forward to more, will no doubt be angry and frustrated at his new approach, thinking that is not a WRONG TURN film….and I won’t argue with that!
But in an age where we criticise people within film for not trying something new and different, I appreciated the attempt here to create a new vision for horror fans. It may not work for many, but no doubt in a few years time, there’ll be a core of fans, who start to see this in a new light and jump onboard the praise, causing endless debates with fans who hate it, making WRONG TURN 2021 join the ranks of Friday the 13th Part V and Halloween III as the one entry where despite the real bogeymen not showing up…..its still a pretty good show!