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Movie Review- Wrong Turn (2021)

The first Wrong Turn film was released in 2003, which was soon followed by six sequels. After seven films in total, the franchise had exhausted all creative potential. It was revived this year with Wrong Turn (2021, dir. Mike P. Nelson), based on a script by Alan McElroy, who penned the inceptual film.

The film centres around Jennifer (Charlotte Vega) , who like most other twenty-somethings, is unsure about her future. She decides to delay her inevitable adulthood by embarking on a hike through the Appalachian mountains with her boyfriend Darius ( Adain Bradley) and their equally millennial friends (Emma Dumont, Adrian Favela, Vardaan Arora and Tim de Zan). However, their life-affirming trip is cut short when they run afoul of the the mysterious ‘Foundation’ – a Midsommer-esque sect of people who shun modern society, sequestering themselves away in the wilderness. Blood and guts ensue. Meanwhile, her father Scott (Matthew Modine) embarks on his own journey to find his missing daughter.

As a reboot, the film preserves the fundamental formula of attractive young people being targeted by deranged rural maniacs. But in this version, the inhabitants of the Foundation are more morally ambiguous than the outright malevolent families in the other films, offering some thought-provoking commentary on first-world self-righteousness and the horrors of modernity. They are suitably sinister, dressed in ritualistic ghillie suits and grotesquely sutured skull masks, befitting of their new cultish nature. Despite Bill Sage’s thunderous villain role as Venable, they lack the iconic nature of pre-reboot fan favorites like Sawtooth and One-Eye. Unlike the snarling, disfigured cannibals of the prior films, they are completely ordinary, which only serves to make them more terrifying. The main protagonists are similarly underdeveloped, aside from Jennifer and Darius, serving as mouthpieces for painfully written ‘woke’ dialogue in a desperate attempt to connect with a contemporary audience, especially early on in the film. The cinematography is beautiful, with wide shots of the woods, accompanied by a mostly ambient soundtrack helping to accentuate the growing dread of the main characters. The ending is so prolonged that the tension turns to tedium.

Wrong Turn takes the franchise in an interesting new direction, though not without its flaws, but has enough potential for a sequel.



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