Photo credits: Dutch FilmWorks
Well, how many warnings do you want? It is now known, after many horror films, that spoiled people in their twenties should not take trips to the wooded areas of the southern US countryside.
If you do, you will first be told to rot by a toothless crawl, then you ignore it and then the members of your group are chopped up, shot or scattered one by one by the locals, after which the most humble girl of the group is the only one who survives. Or sometimes not.
Wrong Turn is a reboot of the Wrong Turn series that produced six progressively worse films from 2003 to 2014, which were reworks of superior films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Cabin in the Woods and of course Deliverance. All variations on the theme of getting lost and killed by underdeveloped species in spooky fields and forests (thankfully, the cannibals from the original Wrong Turn movies are missing).
In this movie, we meet six friends who go hiking on the Appalachian Trail, an infamous, long and arduous trail through woods and mountains that locals strongly advise against. But if you do it anyway: never go off the track and walk in the woods! “Nature can be so unforgiving here,” muttered the spooky local witch woman, but the city-types shrug their shoulders at the backwardness of the peasants. They’re millennial cliched types that are overrated: heroine Jane has a master’s degree in dance and art history, boyfriend Darius runs a sustainable energy nonprofit, Mila is an oncologist and boyfriend Adam is an app developer. Finally, gay couple Gary and Louis own two bistros in New York. In short, the poorly fit people in the poverty-stricken corner of Virginia they’ve traveled to. In a bar filled to the brim with dangerously hidden country giants, they flaunt their professions and are told: “You fucking hip-hoppers are the problem of this whole world. So it is better to sit still and act on your own. Shit, that’s the message, and when the group does that and goes into the woods, we see them misbehaving there: running and screaming like fools. It’s obvious to the movie viewer: These genres are so bad that they deserve no better slaying in the rest of the movie.
The way it happens is horribly shocking: When the first victim dies in a very colorful way, she’ll be just as shocked as Jane and her friends (minus one, that is). False turning becomes very tense and frightening for a while. The categories of bone fractures and perforations are particularly well represented. Wrong Turn offers nothing new, but the misery of friends is well depicted and even the characters get some depth and become more sympathetic, although you are forced not to see most of them for a long time, given the tragically short life expectancy. Jane, who she already knew from the start that she was going to be “The Last Girl,” is well portrayed by actress Charlotte Vega, who we know as Zuri from Netflix’s series Warrior Nun.
Following these well-known ingredients, Wrong Turn takes an unexpected turn: the goofs behind in the woods don’t look very backward after all, but are actually some kind of noble savage with very ancient customs and rituals. Thus the film changes during the second half of The Oscillator into a different form from the pagan themes that are also addressed in the film The Infinitely Superior Midsommar. During this portion of the Wrong Turn, action in the woods alternates with the mission that Scott’s father Jane, played by Matthew Modine (full metal jacket, Stranger Things), embarks on in Virginia. He meets the same people that Jane and her friends also meet and through those encounters we learn more about the relationships between the people in the forests and the farmers of the area, which also turn out to be quite dissonant. Scott deals with the information and warnings he receives a little better than the group of friends and tracks down Jane, which leads to a surprising conclusion.
Wrong Turn himself also leaves the slasher genre on the beaten path and while that’s not always successful – the movie is laughable at times – this raises this movie a little above average for the genre. Only suitable for enthusiasts, but well worth it for them.
Wrong Turn will be shown in Dutch cinemas from July 15, 2021