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‘Wrong Turn’ (2021) review: A noble attempt at rebranding

‘Wrong Turn’ has all the comfortable horror moving trappings.

Wrong Turn is one of horror’s overlooked franchises. Since 2003, there have been six installments in the series about a group of cannibals in West Virginia. Their targets are usually unsuspecting victims who have wandered off the correct road. The 2021 reboot will be recognizable to longtime fans, though there are some major differences.

A group of six friends go on a mountain hiking trip to West Virginia. On their way to the Appalachian Trail, they receive warnings from many different townsfolk about sticking to the route. After straying off the path, they find themselves hunted by a self sufficient community called the Foundation that does not care for outsiders. 

Wrong Turn has all the comfortable horror moving trappings with a 21st century coat of paint. The group of friends all have their defined roles like the “loudmouth” and the “sensitive guy”. The movie also very quickly lets the audience know who the Final Girl is going to be. As is also the case with these types of movies, there is little character development.

This does not mean it is derivative every step of the way. Wrong Turn starts off as more of a mystery. A father visits different places looking for his missing daughter. The story then flashbacks to six weeks previous to fill in the blanks. The way killing is handled in the film is also different. Wrong Turn seems like the type of movie to be filled with grisly deaths. While it does have its gory moments, much happens off screen. This can be good for building tension, but in this type of story it lessens the stakes. 

More visceral deaths would also be a good way to help feel something for the characters. There is never an opportunity to get to know them. A violent death would at least provide a lasting impression. Wrong Turn is just as concerned with delivering social commentary as it is scares. It can be a little heavy handed at times – referring to a Black character as the “black fella – but it also fits into the context of the story being told.

Horror reboots can be a tough sell. Even when the quality becomes watered down after years of sequels, there is a familiarity to them. Wrong Turn does a decent job of moving away from the original. There is a nice attempt at social commentary and the attempt to build ambiguity is different. The writing gets a little muddled at times, but there are enough traps to keep things interesting.

Wrong Turn will release On Demand, Digital, Blu-ray and DVD on February 23, 2021.

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