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John’s Horror Corner: Wrong Turn (2021), not the hillbilly horror remake you were hoping for.

April 19, 2021

MY CALL: A decent horror film, but a God awful reimagining of Wrong Turn—which it clearly isn’t even trying to do. MORE MOVIES LIKE Wrong TurnWell, of course, you need to go back to Wrong Turn (2003), and then perhaps the sillier but gory sequels. For more Appalachian Horror, consider Spell (2020), The Descent (2005), Evil Dead (2013), Jug Face (2013), Tucker and Dale versus Evil (2010) or Pumpkinhead (1988).

A group of friends hiking the Appalachian Trail stumble across an archaic tribe of long-secluded woodsmen and disappear. Determined to find them, a father (Matthew Modine; Stranger Things, 47 Meters Down) sets out looking for his daughter (Charlotte Vega; Another Me) recruiting whatever help from the rural locals he can.

I’m not impressed with this Appalachian cult of deer skull-masked mountain people. Their costumes, camouflage and booby trap shenanigans all seem far-fetched even for a horror movie. These guys always seem to be in the right place at the right time in the otherwise vast forest. It’s not cheeky or charming or amusingly self-aware. Quite the opposite—this is 100% serious and always delivered with a straight face. Yet the events that transpire felt very unrealistic, even in the context of a horror movie.

This film’s greatest saving grace would be how it celebrates brutal head trauma across multiple scenes. The first death scene features an awesomely mangled jaw and crushed skull. Some other brutal scenes include a spiked pit trap impalement and a savage cranial beating with a log. These visuals are more pleasing (to gorehounds at least) than the overall movie—which has none of Wrong Turn’s (2003) DNA to be found. In execution, this movie wishes it was The Shrine (2010) and it doesn’t even know it.

This script was clearly written for a more northern setting, and set in Virginia (not West Virginia as the source material) to ease us into a Wrong Turn state of mind. It’s sad how obvious it is that this was originally never meant to be a Wrong Turn script. At one point a character refers to hunting moose and elk… moose are found nowhere near Virginia! Perhaps that makes more sense of whatever language they spoke (something Germanic/Slavic/Scandinavian, I’m no linguist). Later in the movie, more dumb things transpire. The “cavern of the blind” was particularly ridiculous and smacked of something in an ill-written Hammer-era movie of the 50s or 60s depicted some lower circle of Hell.

REMAKE/REIMAGINING/REBOOT SIDEBAR: For more horror remakes, I strongly favor the following: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Thing (1982), The Fly (1986), The Blob (1988), The Mummy (1999), The Ring (2002), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Dawn of the Dead (2004), The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Friday the 13th (2009), Let Me In (2010), Evil Dead (2013), Carrie (2013), The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014), It (2017), Suspiria (2018) and Child’s Play (2019). Those to avoid include Body Snatchers (1993; the second remake), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007; the third remake), Prom Night (2008), Night of the Demons (2009), Sorority Row (2009), Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013), Poltergeist (2015), Martyrs (2015), Cabin Fever (2016), Unhinged (2017) and The Mummy (2017). I’m on the fence about An American Werewolf in Paris (1997), The Grudge (2004), Halloween (2007), It’s Alive (2009), My Bloody Valentine (2009), A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Fright Night (2011), The Thing (2011; a prequel/remake), Maniac (2012), Rabid (2019), Pet Sematary (2019) and Castle Freak (2020), which range from bad to so-so (as remakes) but still are entertaining movies on their own.

The story doesn’t build to anything meaningful or particularly tense. But as critical as I can be, the finale scene was definitely satisfying even if brief. In fact, this movie would probably be okay if it had no association with Wrong Turn. Just call it “Appalachia” or “The Tribe” or “The Foundation” (the name of our tribe in this movie).

Not an upsettingly bad movie at all. It’s just fine really. But without gnarly-toothed inbred cannibals, surely a woefully disappointing “reboot” of the Wrong Turn namesake, doing no justice to the original property in any way, shape or form. That just put a sour taste in my mouth. Ultimately director Mike P. Nelson (The Domestics, Summer School) made a decent enough film that suffered from the studio’s desperate attempt to use the title and retain the rights to the Wrong Turn property for the sake of future cash grabs.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2021 5:21 am

    I was pretty disappointed with the Wrong Turn reboot, it was nothing like I was expecting at all, and just felt like a blatant cash grab.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      April 20, 2021 7:32 pm

      I imagine they had to apply the title to something to retain the rights to the WT name. I wouldn’t be shocked if he get another WT reboot in 3-5 years.

      • April 21, 2021 3:15 pm

        Yeah, I expect so. Those reboots tend to come around again on a regular basis now, lets just hope they do a better job with the next inevitable shot at the franchise.

  2. April 23, 2021 10:55 pm

    This one didn’t work for me. The original was awesome and the second wasn’t bad either. Somebody needs to send this reboot to the shoemaker for a serious refitting.

  3. May 2, 2021 7:28 pm

    Hate to hear this was so disappointing, but others commenting seem to feel the same way. Now I’m stuck on whether or not to watch it to see how bad it is. I’m going to try to force myself to avoid it.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 3, 2021 7:44 pm

      Watch it. But pretend it has nothing to do with the WT franchise at all. Then… it might be just fine.

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