Early 2000’s horror nostalgia meets a fresh re-imagining in 2021’s updated, and much improved, Wrong Turn. A deeply concerned father (played by Matthew Modine) searches for his missing daughter and her friends in small-town Virginia after they mysteriously disappear following a hiking trip in the woods. Sound familiar? Well, this 2021 version takes the skeleton premise of the 2003 fan favourite and its subsequent sequels then takes on a whole new turn of its own.
Told in flashback form, we meet the group of six friends, led by Jen (Charlotte Vega), her boyfriend, Darius (Adain Bradley), with two other couples as they embark on a foreboding journey into the wilderness. Having already been intimidated by the “we don’t care for strangers” townsfolk, the group do not heed the warnings, and head out into the maze-like woods, where events soon take a sinister and brutal trajectory.
While 2003’s Wrong Turn brought back the backwoods horror we’d grown to love from the likes of The Hills Have Eyes (1977), 2021’s remake takes on a life of its own combining the essence of the original with a Midsommar (2019) style atmosphere and plotline.
Wrong Turn (2021) is a refreshing take on the typical group of young people prominently featured in the horror genre. Instead of vacuous, beer-guzzling, dope-smoking, horny teens, we get a progressive group of young adults, with ambitions and goals, meaning that there is more at stake for them once they become embroiled in the inevitably dangerous situation.
There is a welcome sense of diversity amongst the group, both in its depiction of ethnicity and sexuality, with the focal couple being in an interracial relationship and another couple in a homosexual relationship.
Despite some of these characters meeting horrifying ends, Wrong Turn triumphs in its representation of diverse characters, which again, progressively moves away from the slasher tropes of the past. With that said, there are familiar character traits in place, as depicted with Adam (Dylan McTee), the aggressive, highly charged jock type whose main objective is looking out for number one. Overall, the characterization is miles ahead of this style of genre piece from twenty years ago.
The film progresses at a steady pace, allowing us a prolonged time with the characters before some of them meet their deadly fates. Keeping in the spirit of the Wrong Turn franchise, the kills are unapologetically grizzly and mean-spirited. There is plenty of gore on show, however, it is rationed throughout the film’s duration, upholding a stronger impact.
The storytelling is strong, beginning with Jen’s father’s perspective, as he is led on a wild goose chase by the locals in his quest for the truth. The atmosphere is tense, as we are aware something nefarious is afoot ready to claim the lives of the innocent hikers as the story develops through the flashback.
For a film of this ilk, remake horror, the performances are surprisingly solid from the entire cast. Nothing feels gimmicky, or overly stereotypical. Actual remorse is shown for the deaths that occur, a rarity in the genre. These elements certainly set the film apart from the majority of early 2010’s remakes.
The setup is clever in the sense, it leads the audience to believe that the characters will be targeted by the inbred style creatures seen in the original. However, it would be mistaken to assume, without revealing any spoilers this Wrong Turn offers something far more complex and disturbing when it comes to the killers. The film leaves the viewer guessing for a while, laying down the traps before the shocking reveal.
With plenty of twists and turns throughout, Wrong Turn is high on the suspense, presenting a much-needed nail-biting backwoods horror that truly delivers. Wrong Turn (2021) is its own brutal beast, taking a well-known franchise that became an embarrassing parody of itself into much darker and appealing territory.
Signature Entertainment presents Wrong Turn (2021) Home Premiere on Digital Platforms 26th February