The year is 2003. I am 16 years old. Eliza Dushku is at the height of her popularity and trashy horrors about red-neck, inbred hillbillies are making a resurgence in the new millennium with plenty of gore and very few teeth.
The original Wrong Turn was a fairly predictable but enjoyable brainless horror featuring the classic horror villains introduced by films like Deliverance, The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre many years prior. Popular enough to spawn five sequels over the following 11 years, it was a franchise that no one really needed but that had enough of a draw to make a small profit despite increasingly lower budgets (part 6 being made on a humble 1.6 million and went straight to video). Now in 2021, like all things that made money, the world of film has decided to reboot/reimagine/rehash the Wrong Turn franchise for a new generation.
The set up of this re-whatever is similar to my memory of the original Wrong Turn (and most horror movies from the 2000s) – a group of teens find themselves in back country America, warned to not stray from the path as them dangerous rednecks be lurking in them dark woods. But awful, privileged teenagers have no interest in heeding the advice of the locals and take themselves hiking with their annoying mixture of a complete lack of brains, lack of smart decisions and lack of redeeming qualities of any kind as they wander into the slack-jawed world of violence and depravity.
Fans of gore will definitely find something to enjoy here (particularly if you have a strong dislike for the traditional shape of the human skull) and fans of the original might enjoy this attempt at taking a well trodden story in a moderately different direction, however anyone that has seen any horror movie made between 2001 – 2007, will quickly tire of a formula that is so tiresomely predictable for the genre, that you are better off spending your money elsewhere.
There is nothing here in terms of writing, direction or performances that makes this film any more memorable than a million other films that went before it and will no doubt come after – and its use of the title “Wrong Turn” feels like the producers slapped a franchise title on a film that had actually set out to be a stand alone movie, as the links to the franchise are so tenuous that I can’t help but feel like this was a decision made simply to boost it’s popularity and not one made from the creative team from the outset.
To the films credit – it was nice to see a cast of people of colour and a same sex relationship among the main characters that wasn’t there simply as a plot device but was instead just providing a level of diversity that is still shockingly lacking in a lot of modern films. It also NEARLY had an ending that made me go “holy crap! I can’t believe they ACTUALLY did that! I respect film makers that actually do that kind of thing with a story!” only to have them un-earn that moment in the scene that followed and leaving me feeling like I did after the “battle” at the end of Twilight Breaking Dawn Part Two (you heard me!).
Overall – people who like mindless, brainless, horror devoid of all complexity, originality and uniqueness might enjoy Wrong Turn, but for those who are after something other than a few predictable jump scares and some (admittedly) pretty impressive head squishing gore, I recommend you read the news, it’s significantly more terrifying.
Bonus points for however many lines you can guess before they are said. I genuinely said several lines before the character did – that’s not a credit to me more a discredit to the script writers.
– Ashton Brown