DIRECTED BY: Mike P. Nelson
STARRING: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Matthew Modine, Adrian Favela, Vardaan Arora, Tim de Zarn, Valerie Jane Parker, Chaney Morrow, David Hutchison, Damian Maffei, Mark Mench and Bret Aaron Knower
When a dream trip turns into a nightmare, one group of friends finds themselves at the mercy of an urban legend – The Foundation. As a freak accident drives the group deeper into the mountains, they find themselves succumbing one by one to hunting traps large enough to take out anyone that dares venture off the beaten path. The group soon realises they are not alone and what happens next escalates into a gruesome game of survival, as those who called the mountain home respond to this outside threat with their own swift and brutal justice.
Wrong Turn is the seventh instalment and reboot of the franchise which was created by Alan B. McElroy over eighteen years ago. The reboot, written by Alan B. McElroy and directed by Mike P. Nelson, focuses on a group of friends who travel to Virginia and go for a hike on the Appalachian trail. When one of them wants to search for a rare Civil War fort off the beaten track, that’s when things begin to take a turn for the worse for the group as a freak accident drives the group deeper into the mountains, discovering traps along the way as well as some creepy figures that seem to be stalking them from afar. Meanwhile, one of the member’s of the group father begins to believe that his daughter has gone missing and travels to Virginia to follow their footsteps and discover what exactly happened to them.
I don’t know how but I happened to miss out on the Wrong Turn franchise, but I remember the basic bullet points of the original from various people that watched it: college students go to remote forrest and encounter some cannibals along the way. So in that regard, I liked how the reboot put a fresh spin in that regard on the villains, making it more of a grey area between the group of friends and the people within the woods itself known as The Foundation. As a concept, I pretty much like the representation of The Foundation as a group of villains, descents of a group of families who remained recluse from society to the point that they have their own language and they’re also not following the franchise tradition of cannibalism, even though we do get some glimpses of that in the film here but the way that is represented here is executed very effectively. Pretty much told through two arcs, we have the group with Jen, her boyfriend Darius, and their friends Milla, Adam, Luis and Gary making their way into this small town, spending the night before going on their hike the next day, and the other is Jen’s father Scott trying to retrace their steps in order to find his missing daughter and her friends. From the cast, most of the development is given to Charlotte Vega and Matthew Modine as Jen and Scott Shaw, with Vega giving a good performance as Jen, a person from the group that we can root for as she tries her best to keep everyone alive while the rest lose their calm and Modine also gives a good performance as the father willing to do whatever it takes to get his daughter back. Bill Sage also gives a compelling performance as Venable, the leader of The Foundation, and brings a certain menace and convincing of a villain who believes he’s a good guy.
There’s some deaths here that are pretty graphic and violent, so if that’s your kind of thing then your in for a treat with this reboot, especially with the first death being pretty impactful. While Mike P. Nelson does a good job in building suspense as we see the group being stalked, ultimately the film does feel by-the-numbers in to how it plays out in within the screenplay. As a whole, outside of Jen, I didn’t particularly care for the characters, so I didn’t really fear for them or feel anything whenever one of them were removed from the story, and some of them make drastic, and idiotic, decisions. One character in particular, Darius, makes a rather left-field decision and it feels like it comes out of nowhere because there was no build-up to it or a sequence prior to it with weight that makes him come to the decision he does. Even coming in with an hour and fifty minute runtime, the film feels like it could’ve done with a few extra scenes to add some depth for certain characters (Daisy Head as Edith as an example) to make us care about them. While I liked the final scene, the final act does take certain liberties and raises some questions that viewers might have an issue with.
With compelling performances by Charlotte Vega, Matthew Modine and Bill Sage, Mike P. Nelson’s Wrong Turn puts a fresh spin on the franchise, but unfortunately falls into the pit of predictability when it reaches its climax.