Near the end of the “Wrong Turn” reboot the main characters drop a boulder-sized Easter Egg.
The aside, which won’t be revealed here, shrugs at how the film jettisoned the key element from the previous “Wrong Turn” features.
Not only does the new “Wrong Turn” disavow the franchise’s pulpy roots, it replaces them with a staid story with little to recommend it.
Concerned pappy Scott (Matthew Modine) is trying to find his missing daughter, Jen (Charlotte Vega), who went hiking with her friends more than a month ago.
He hasn’t heard from her in weeks.
The film flashes back to Jen’s trip, introducing us to her bland group of woke chums. Jen’s biracial beau (Adain Bradley) works at a sustainability nonprofit, and two other buds are a devoted gay couple who can’t stop with the PDAs.
They set out for the Virginia woods after several locals warn them not to stray from the path. That connects us to the franchise’s roots, while allowing the filmmakers to take cheap shots at Rural USA. The first 20 minutes of “Wrong Turn” are spent insulting the locals, seen as racist, homophobic Confederate flag wavers.
“You G – D—- hippie freaks are the problem with the whole world,” one crusty patron cries during a bar argument. There’s “punching down,” and then there’s shoveling a six-foot hole and starting from there.
Guess where this fits in?
It’s like a clumsy rebuke to “Hillbilly Elegy,” but the asides quickly give way to the main event – six attractive young people lost in the woods, unaware of what’s waiting for them.
It’s what “Wrong Turn” fans want above all else. Let the games begin.
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The first “game” grabs us by the scruff of the neck. Traps are sprung, our heroes are scattered and it’s clear something in the woods knows they’re there. So what can the new “Wrong Turn” bring to the formula, one that proved shockingly effective even during its straight-to-video phase?
You’ll be sorry you asked.
Sharing more about the plot threatens sizable spoilers. Suffice to say “Wrong Turn” goes in an entirely different direction than past installments, replacing the franchise’s grindhouse fun with grim, self-important storytelling.
Wow, is that a disastrous “Turn” of events.
The revelations behind the initial attack slow the film’s momentum, disconnect from the franchise’s DNA and offer little that’s novel or refreshing.
Want some scares? You won’t find many here. The franchise’s B-movie ‘tude is replaced by some unintentional laughs. Need an example? A character brags about her friend’s climate change expertise to the locals.
That’s a knee slapper no one on the set recognized, apparently.
The new “Turn” offers a beefier budget, and better makeup FX, than the last few installments. It’s a welcome change, as is Modine’s steady presence. If you’re wondering why the veteran actor is wallowing in his dreck, note his daughter sings the movie’s key track (and does so quite well).
The new, “improved” storyline, by its very nature, requires a sophistication that original “Wrong Turn” screenwriter Alan B. McElroy fails to establish here. And oh, does it invite plot holes, the kind Death Stars can sail through without scraping the sides.
Horror fans can savor a few grisly sights, but the film never feels committed to the task. “Wrong Turn” movies typically revel in the gross-out moments. Once again, why tinker with a formula beyond recognition?
A more important question – why bother rebooting “Wrong Turn” in the first place? It’s all about the IP, the name recognition.
How cynical can you get?
Hollywood is officially out of both ideas and verve. Excising the series’ bloody soul renders the reboot meaningless.
HiT or Miss: “Wrong Turn” wastes Matthew Modine and the underrated franchise’s raison d’etre for a chance to tell a tepid, all-too-familiar yarn.