In 2003, Constantin Film presented a ‘The Hills Have Eyes‘-esque inbred cannibals horror fright fest titled WRONG TURN. Five sequels and 14 years later, Alan B. McElroy, writer of the original film, has penned down his very own reboot.

This edge-of-your-seat survival horror follows six friends from New York who after fixing a flat tire (a small nod to the original, since that was the cause of that group of friends getting stranded in the middle of nowhere) arrive at their destination in West Virginia, ready to embark on an intense hiking trip. As their local innkeeper warns them to stay on the path, Darius (Adain Bradley – ‘The Bold and the Beautiful‘) veers off the trail, leading his friends into a deadly trap, before they fall prey to a savage and cruel sect known as The Foundation. When one of the friends brutally kills a member of this cult, final girl Jen (Charlotte Vega – ‘Warrior Nun‘) must make a life changing choice to save herself and her friends.

Let me make something clear, I’m a massive horror geek and I’m a very big fan of the original Wrong Turn, which stars the incredibly underrated Eliza Dushku. Hearing the news of Constantin Film producing a reboot of this classic 2000s horror rubbed me the wrong way. I have to admit, bringing back McElroy was the best decision they’ve could’ve made, giving us an exciting story and spinning it in a way so a new generation can enjoy this take and possibly also the start of a franchise. There’s less incestuous cannibals, more crazy mountain people. Think ‘The Village‘ meets ‘Friday the 13th‘.

Another nice surprise is the cast’s ability to act. Let’s be honest, most of the time we get a low budget horror flick with a cast that’s incapable to commit to a character’s growth nor are they ready to fully go for the emotional depth that’s required to convince a horror film’s audience they’re actually scared of impending doom. Front and center we witness the rise of a new scream queen, Charlotte Vega, who plays Jen Shaw. Even if most of her stunts were done by a professional, we can confidently crown her the “Tomb Raider of horror”. She brings charisma, depth, emotion and confidence to carry the film and lead the cast.

After Jen, her boyfriend and two other couples (one of them is gay – representation, yay!) go missing, her worried father goes looking for them, discovering the truth behind a hidden side of American history. In non-linear story telling style, we go back and forth between Jen and her father. The first act is action packed, with some genuine scares and intense scenes. Death traps are hidden deep inside the West Virginian Mountains, and once the very first log rolls down a hill to chase and destroy the group of friends, it becomes very clear there’s nowhere to hide for them.

The second act takes a bit of a dip in terms of action and suspense, but is a welcome break before the third act kicks things off again before ending in a horrifically tense finale that keeps going while the credits are rolling. The camera movements give a sense of urgency, while Stephen Lukach‘s solid score turns up the intensity. The film could’ve been about 20 minutes shorter to keep it more streamlined, but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a great time watching this new chapter in the franchise.

Wrong Turn‘ will excite horror fans by giving us an interesting and twisted new take on the franchise, with enough blood, gore and action to keep fans of the previous chapters entertained. It’s unapologetic, often creepy and good old backwoods horror fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

IN AUSTRALIAN CINEMAS 4 FEBRUARY

Review – ‘Wrong Turn’

Reviewed online (screener provided by Rialto Distribution), February 4, 2021. Rating: MA15+. Running time: 109 min.

PRODUCTION: (AU) A Rialto Distribution release of a Constantin Film production. Producers: James Harris, Robert Kulzer. Executive producers: Bill Bromiley, Fiona Yang Li, Martin Moszkowicz, Christian Oliver, Jonathan Saba.

CREW: Director: Mike P. Nelson. Screenplay: Alan B. McElroy. Cinematography: Nick Junkersfeld. Editing: Tom Elkins. Score: Stephen Lukach.

CAST: Charlotte Vega, Matthew Modine, Emma Dumont, Daisy Head, Bill Sage, Valerie Jane Parker, Adain Bradley, Tim DeZarn, Dylan McTee, Damian Maffei.

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