Over the course of its direct-to-video sequels, the Wrong Turn franchise has built an impressive cult following; starting with the fun 2003 original that gave viewers a surprising amount of thrills and kills. But, it also fell back on a genre stereotype that even Wrong Turn fans have deemed rote – mangy country folk will always be portrayed as villains. With 2021’s Wrong Turn, in an attempt to breathe life intro this outdated trope, director Mike P. Nelson and the franchise’s original screenwriter Alan B. McElroy provide a new perspective for this often maligned community.
The reboot moves on from small town folk, representing them as private traditionalists, and shifts focus to another group of people completely off the grid. They’re fearful and mysterious, but are they sinister? That’s a question briefly discussed by a diverse clan of intelligent, young out-of-towners who make a bad judgement call while hiking through the woods. After experiencing extreme trauma while on their trip, an excitable camper kills a suspected threat only to find out the identity of their victim once captured. This also ties into the film’s take on colonialism, where ignorant people try to acquire power over the forest natives.
Don’t get me wrong: Wrong Turn (2021) is still that satisfyingly gruesome backwoods thriller horror hounds will be barking for. Man-made traps gobble up people left and right, resulting in fatalities that will make your jaw drop. And, a routine final act involving a father (Stranger Things’ Matthew Modine) venturing out to the woods to save his daughter (American Assassin’s Charlotte Vega), one of the campers who has suddenly vanished, lets the movie slip into a cat-and-mouse formula with exciting hand-to-hand combat and effective jump scares. But for me, the reboot earned itself that opportunity to let loose and give into typical expectations because of how committed it was to its contemporary changes.
The debate surrounding the relevancy and purpose of contemporary remakes and reboots (especially within the horror genre) is continually discussed but, every so often, a qualified remake is released that supports why we need evisions with updated ideas. That film, at least currently, is this exceptional franchise game changer.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie