There have been countless horror reboots, prequels and sequels released this year that have been taking the industry by storm with some proving to be successful (Candyman) and others not as much (Spiral). Regardless, revisiting classic horror franchises seems to be a way to bring that nostalgia for horror fans. However, whereas some of these films have wanted to go down a different path while still remaining similar to audiences, this year’s Wrong Turn reboot goes in the completely opposite direction. The 2003 original film sees a group of friends hunted down in the West Virginian wilderness by a small group of savage cannibals, this 2021 reboot tells a different story entirely. Boasting a similar initial synopsis, we see a group of young explorers hiking along the Appalachian Trail but this is where the similarities end as Wrong Turn changes up the culprits to incorporate social commentary and bring a new twist to the classic tale. This makes the film completely unpredictable, even to those who have watched the original, as it doesn’t follow the same plot points at all.
The film is directed by Mike P. Nelson and written by original Wrong Turn writer Alan B. McElroy. McElroy completely deconstructs his original story and changes it to something new and timely while Nelson’s direction is raw and unflinching. The result of which is a film that follows the trend of incorporating political discussion while also subverting many clichés often synonymous with this kind of film.
Charlotte Vega is cast as the film’s protagonist Jen, a woman who is unsure what she wants to get out of life. As she makes her way visiting various parts of the Appalachian Trail with her friends, Jen clearly has a desire for adventure but doesn’t know how to translate this into her professional life. Despite being surrounded by her accomplished friends, the film follows Jen as in finding a way out of the horrors, she is able to reclaim her own identity and her sense of self. Vega does a fantastic job of balancing Jen’s sense of dread with her instinctual resilience which is the driving force of the film. An important part of any horror film is making sure you have characters that can push the film along and although Jen’s character isn’t completely fleshed out as well as it could be, it’s enough to show the contrasts between the life that Jen has versus the life that she eventually leads.
Wrong Turn has an incredible support cast that really create an immersive experience and draw you into the community that has formed within the woods. In particular, Bill Sage as The Foundation’s leader Veneble is one of the film’s major highlights. Hellbent on preserving power over the community, Veneble is a great character and Sage clearly has fun with the role. His unpredictability and fearlessness means that he is a character that should be feared.
Another great supporting turn was Matthew Modine as Jen’s father, Scott and as expected, he is great. We are introduced into the film’s narrative through Scott’s perspective so it lies on Modine to draw the audience in. As we see Scott visit the small town and the tensions that arise among the locals, Modine does a great job of portraying a flawed father who is willing to anything for his missing daughter.
Overall, Wrong Turn follows the trends of using horror as a means to explore larger discussions on racial, gender and sexual identity. It is because of this that the film results in an unpredictable and unflinching look into how the setting of the film serves as a microcosm of America as we see the cultural melting pot and the subsequent clashes which often have extra gory results. For those who are unfamiliar with the Wrong Turn franchise, you don’t need to have seen any of the previous instalments as this film does a brilliant job of introducing the viewer into this world. It will be great to see if there are any sequels that follow this particular film’s narrative in the future.
What did you think of Wrong Turn? Let me know in the comments below!
Wrong Turn is available to watch on Netflix now!