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Movie Review

CASUAL

 Published: 01.23.21

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         MPAA: R

                       Genre: Horror. Thriller.

                 WRONG TURN brings the intensity, the gore, and the right touch the franchise needs

     RELEASE: 01.26.21

WRONG TURN (2021) 

OPENING THOUGHTS:

The original Wrong Turn arrived all the way back in 2003 to critical failure, minor financial success, and eventually cult classic status, as well as five straight-to-video sequels. I’ll be honest, I was never a huge fan of the series, managing to only see the original feature before dropping off until now. 2021 has just begun, and in a typical year January would bring us an onslaught of poorly executed horror films being dropped off with little thought; Wrong Turn is not one of those titles. Wrong Turn brings the intensity, the gore, and the right touch the franchise needs to move into the new decade in style, albeit not flawlessly.

DIRECTION:

Mike P. Nelson directs this newest installment, serving as a reboot of the long running franchise. Wrong Turn (2003) is known for its cannibalistic tendencies, and the 2021 reboot is not at all that. Instead we are given a cult-esque colony with violent tendencies known as "The Foundation." This change may seem minimal but believe me, it is not. The first half of the film takes place primarily in the woods, with a group of college students lost and trying to evade traps placed off the guided path. The penalties of the group's actions are brutal, bloody, and well worth the tense first hour of buildup to get to the madness of the final act. The film is well made, although the pieces of the film taking place outside of the woods lack some distinction. It seems to target the usual cliches of the genre and flip them on their head but with little reason. Nevertheless the film primarily takes place in the forest setting, and everything inside the woods, apart from one scene where the lighting is far too dark to fully appreciate the action taking place on screen, is excellent.

PLOT:

Wrong Turn (2003) screenwriter Alan B. McElroy returns to put a brand new spin on his original concept, but does it work as well? The plot follows a group of college students taking a break to hike, with advice from the local hotel owner to stick to the path. Unfortunately following advice is difficult to do in horror films. Naturally they venture off the path to look for a supposed Civil War landmark and in the process get lost. From there, the group becomes immediately threatened by numerous hidden traps, some of which come with some horrifying consequences. Once the cult mentality overtakes prior expectations, plot holes become more and more apparent as time passes - so much so that the satisfying conclusion feels oddly unearned. I won't spoil anything further regarding the plot, but just stay away from the trailer entirely to have a more intense experience where you don't have a clue what traps may lie ahead.

ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:

Charlotte Vega leads the cast as Jen in the primary plot while her father Scott played by Matthew Modine leads the secondary storyline. Vega and Modine do a tremendous job with the script they have and really feel connected. The supporting roles vary in quality, and several of the original group of hikers are a little all over the place with their reasons for doing the most ludicrous of things; these moments are when numerous plot holes take place. Within "The Foundation,” similar issues occur with a lacking supporting cast of characters surrounding the leader Venable (John Sage), with him ultimately taking the reins to make the film the most intense it can be with his deliberate unsettling behavior. The worst comes with the typical unwelcoming townsfolk that take up far to much of the screen time to attempt to scare away the visitors from going into the woods, with a laughable twist that makes you question if it was planned all along or thrown in during a last second rewrite to make the plot move along. With a varying cast in level of talent and ultimately characterization, the film is an unsorted bag of necessary and unnecessary characters sharing the screen.

VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:

The makeup, the costume design, and the setting all fit wonderfully together. The secret society stood out against the townsfolk, and the out of town college students felt just like they are, from out of the setting taking place. The film is fueled with intense traps and brutal executions, and the gore is top notch practical effects. If you're squeamish in the slightest, maybe stray away from this entry, because the kills are gruesome with a capital G.

MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:

Stephen Lukach's score is incredibly versatile, easily flipping between a tense, sweat inducing sound to a thrilling, much more dynamic score when action strikes. The score is great, but what makes the film so shocking and terrifying is the spine tingling sound effects littered throughout, especially during a death sequence. The sound doesn't make the film but it certainly compliments all the fantastic elements surrounding it.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Wrong Turn (2021) had my heart racing, waiting for the worst to inevitably happen. No one was really aching for another Wrong Turn, and in this day and age the remake culture is strong, with people growing tired of the recycling of different "classics.” Wrong Turn takes the idea of being hunted in the woods from the 2003 original and progresses in an entirely different direction. Will it please fans of the original film series? That's difficult to say, but for fans of a more gruesome kind of horror with some thrills along the way, there should be quite enough to leave satisfied with this new gore-tastic take.

WRONG TURN will premiere January 26, 2021 EXCLUSIVELY through Fathom Events - Purchase Tickets Now: www.FathomEvents.com 

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CONCLUSIVE VERDICT:

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