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  Wrong Turn Take A Hike, Buddy
Year: 2021
Director: Mike P. Nelson
Stars: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Bill Sage, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Daisy Head, Matthew Modine, Vardaan Arora, Adrian Favela, Tim DeZarn, Rhyan Elizabeth Hanavan, Chaney Morrow, Cory Scott Allen, Amy Warner, Richard Hagerman, Damian Maffai
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Scott (Matthew Modine) is a worried man since his daughter Jennifer (Charlotte Vega) went on a hiking holiday a couple of months ago, for no matter how many times he has called her phone, there has been no reply. He has pursued every avenue available, and been told maybe she doesn't want to be found as she is having fun on vacation, but she is a responsible person and he cannot believe she would behave so callously, so he travels to the last place she was seen alive. This is a small town in Virginia where the locals keep to themselves and are singularly reluctant to share anything about seeing or not seeing Jen. But what if she was still out there?

Wrong Turn was a horror movie that arrived at the turn of the millennium, and perhaps more influential than many would care to admit. Sure, there were all those direct to video sequels that only the diehards stuck with, the law of diminishing returns well applied to low budget efforts that stuck with samey reprises of the original, but something about the echoes that film produced of nineteen-seventies efforts like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Deliverance and The Hills Have Eyes meant it resonated with a younger generation in much the same manner. Thus, it was about to meet the same fate as so many franchises had before: yes, it was reboot time.

Those Wrong Turn diehards rubbed their hands together with anticipation when they heard the original screenwriter Alan McElroy was back to script this reinvention, after all that first had been the best. But on watching it, they were dismayed to see that for a start, the mutant inbreds from the franchise had been replaced by a Midsommar type cult, and worse than that, the heroes/potential victims were now a rainbow of races and genders, though quite why they were so bothered by this was a mystery if the movie was planning to bump them off - wouldn't that be what the core audience were anticipating and basically watching to get off on seeing their demises?

After all, you didn't watch slasher movies to enjoy characters in harmony with the world, you watched it for antagonism and to enjoy the eternal battle between good and evil. Did you get that with the Wrong Turn redo, however? Well, up to a point, but it was clear McElroy, also a producer on this, was not interested in making more of the same, so while the borderline obnoxious millennials started out as obvious cannon fodder for a selection of cultists in the Appalachians who delight in dressing up in ghillie suits and animal skulls, this was not going to stick with that premise for too long. The plot had it that these hikers were actually invaders who had commenced some kind of limited culture war with the "Foundation" by striking back and killing one of the supposed savages.

There is a trial cum kangaroo court for Jen and her remaining friends where for some reason a very important plot point was utterly forgotten about. She makes the case that they were acting in self-defence, which would be easily proven by dint of the fact the cultists effectively fired first by sending a huge log rolling down a hill that squashed one half of a gay couple, but bizarrely his death did not appear to matter one jot, and nobody mentioned him again when his demise was all they needed to bring up to highlight the Foundation's hypocrisy. If you could get over that, and it was a bit of a leap, then once the fresh set of rules had been established this Wrong Turn grew more interesting that that opening half might appear (it was nearly two hours long, a lot for a horror movie), with a resolution that was queasily manipulative and darkly humorous. Keep watching the credits for an additional twist, too. If you missed the mutants, though, you would be disappointed. Music by Stephen Lukach.

[Signature Entertainment presents Wrong Turn (2021) UK Home Premiere on Digital Platforms 26th February and Blu-Ray & DVD 3rd May.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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