Wrong Turn (2021)
wrong turn | remake | mike p. nelson | alan b. mcelroy | charlotte vega | adain bradley | bill sage | slasher | vacation | thriller | germany | united states | united kingdom | emma dumont | dylan mctee | daisy head | matthew modine | vardaan arora | tim dezarn
Film: Wrong Turn
Director: Mike P. Nelson
Writer: Alan B. McElroy
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley and Bill Sage
Now for this movie, I was intrigued when I saw this was coming out. I think the original one is fun and rather enjoy the first sequel. I’ve only ever seen up to 4 for that original series though. Seeing this was going to go to theaters, at least on a limited basis due to the COVID pandemic, gave me a bit of hope, but it didn’t come to one around me. I did finally give this a viewing at home now that the renting price tag has dropped. Aside from that, I just knew this was a reboot. I’m now giving it a second viewing for my year end list. The synopsis here is friends hiking the Appalachian Trail are confronted by ‘The Foundation’, a community of people who have lived in the mountains for hundreds of years.
We start this movie learning that we’re in the state of Virginia. Scott (Matthew Modine) is entering town as he’s looking for his missing daughter. She disappeared six weeks ago. Her and her friends were hiking on the Appalachian Trail as the synopsis states. This town was the last place she called from and the local sheriff doesn’t do much to help.
It then takes us back to the events that get us there. Jen (Charlotte Vega) is Scott’s daughter. She is on this trip with her boyfriend, Darius (Adain Bradley). With them are a couple that are engaged to be married of Milla (Emma Dumont) and Adam (Dylan McTee). The other couple is Gary (Vardaan Arora) and Luis (Adrian Favela). This group gets a flat tire and while it gets fixed, they rent rooms for a couple nights at a local bed and breakfast. It should be pointed out that Jen is the only one who knows how to put on the spare tire. That night they go to a local bar where they have a run in with some locals led by Nate Roades (Tim DeZarn). It is through this we get a better look at the group and learn about them.
Jen hasn’t found herself. Her father wants her to work for him, but she isn’t sure that’s what she wants. Darius works with improving communities with inclusion as well as making them stronger through a non-profit. Milla is a doctor. Adam is an app developer and a hot head. Gary and Luis own a couple of bistros in New York City. Adam starts the issues with Nate, but Jen shows that she can talk her way out of things. She does well in deescalating the situation while showing how resilient she is. On their way back to where they’re staying, they see someone looking in their vehicle. Adam throws a bottle at them and calling a name. He assumes it is one of the locals from the bar. The person disappears and they call it a night. Someone is watching them though.
The group is told to stay on the hiking trails, but Darius wants to see a local Civil War fortress. This leads them to a place where they see a plaque. With the Civil War looming, some families decided to start a community on this mountain. Darius is intrigued by this, but the rest of the group is tired, hungry and annoyed. It all takes a turn when a tree trunk rolls down the hill toward them. It is out of control and kills a member of the group. They have to camp out and someone seems to be stalking them still. When they wake up, Milla is missing. They also encounter some people that look to be living off the land up here as well. They don’t take kindly to outsiders.
That is where I’ll end my recap of what we’re getting in this movie. I’m going to re-iterate that this is a reboot here. We’re taking the concept that we got in the original and doing something completely different here. This is still a slasher film in a way, but we aren’t getting deformed people through in-breeding. Despite that being taken out, they’re highly skilled still in hunting people and quite intelligent on top of that. It is taking the troupes that the series did, flipping it and playing with the ideas which I did enjoy.
To start with the positives here, I like the changes that this movie is giving us. It is interesting to start with our group of millennials here. Everyone in the group is doing big things except for Jen. She hasn’t found her place yet. We see though that she is still quite intelligent and can talk her way out problems. As I called her earlier, she is quite resilient. I will say she does get them out of the bar scene, but she does upset them in the process. It is eye opening for both groups involved. I do like that we have a group of characters here that are distinct. Having Darius work for a non-profit that comes into play with the community they encounter. Milla is a doctor. Adam despite his attitude is successful and then we also have this homosexual couple that owns their own restaurants. We don’t spend much time on this, but I know each of the characters.
This last part here though really makes sense as this movie is looking at stereotypes and misconceptions. Jen is college educated, but can change a tire. Nate makes a comment about the group not working hard and that is when Jen goes on her rant which points out something about Nate that could save his life. Milla points out what the symptoms point to. Adam and the rest of the group make assumptions. Some of them are wrong about the people of the area. First would be when they see the plaque. Adam assumes it is a bunch of racists that formed The Foundation. Darius points out that it happened before the Civil War though. I’m not going to go into spoilers, but I will say we see the community; it breaks what we think of these people living off the grid like the do here. There are more interesting reveals the more we learn about this community for sure. I do really like the utopian society they’ve created.
After that first viewing, I did have a problem where this movie went. I acknowledge that my problem is with my expectations, not the movie. Coming in with this second viewing, I actually like what they’re doing here. I’ve gave a bit of information on the Foundation. The movie does seem to push a political statement or at least that’s what I thought after that original viewing. I think what they’re saying is that what they’re doing works on a small scale. We should live closer to that. They only attack when they’ve been bothered. There does seem to be a bit of corruption that is going on with it in my opinion as well that I found interesting. If I do have a problem though, the movie is too long. I thought that the first time and I still do. If they could find a way to trim 15 minutes or so, I think this would run much smoother for me. The only part of the story that doesn’t work is the ‘who is the real monster’ concept. It is a bit overplayed and not done well enough here.
Since I’ve delved into the story and the characters, I’ll go next to the acting. I think that Vega is good as our lead here. She seems so young and carefree, ready to take on the world once she finds her place. I love seeing the change that comes over her in order to survive this ordeal. She does actually find her lot in life and it changes her. Bradley is good as well. There is the leader of The Foundation who is Venable and portrayed by Bill Sage. I think he’s good there. Dumont, McTee, Arora and Favela all are good as the rest of that group. I like the role they have for Modine. Aside from that, I think Daisy Head, DeZarn and the rest of the locals work as well.
Then I should next go to the effects. This movie does have a fair bit of practical effects. Most of the blood that I saw looked good. I like the weapons that are used to hurt people. They do a lot with traps. I also really like the camouflage suits that are used. It is legit just taking different things in nature and I dug it. There is some CGI here as well. It seemed to not work the first time, but I think where it is used they couldn’t go practical. There wasn’t enough this time around to bother me. Aside from that, I like the cinematography. They used the depth of focus well for me and seeing people appear behind characters is creepy for me. I’ll give credit to that.
The last thing I want to cover would be the soundtrack and sound design. I think both are used well here. It really does feel these characters are lost in the woods. Creating this language that is used within the community also was good. The actual music selections work as well. From what I remember they did use a lot of string instruments and it helps to build the tension. I’m also a big fan of the song they have over the credits which is sang by Modine’s daughter Ruby and it is slow, creepy rendition of ‘This Land Is Your Land’.
In conclusion here, I think that this movie does some things really well. I’m a fan of the different take on this series with the reboot. I even think that interesting duality between our two groups of characters work and the social commentary from it. With how good the set up was for me, I think the movie just runs too long and I lose interest a bit. As someone who likes commentary, I originally thought it was too heavy handed, but after this viewing, I think the message works. Again though, it isn’t horrible by any stretch. I will also give credit to the cinematography, the practical effects and the soundtrack. After this second viewing, it is come up from just being above average and just missing out on being good for me.
My Rating: 7.5 out of 10