Wrong Turn amps up the consequences of taking, well, a wrong turn. The horror thriller keeps on coming at you even after the final credits start rolling, so don’t walk out too soon.
Three young professional couples decide to take a hike in the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. When they arrive in a backwater town, they get a frosty reception from the locals. An incident in a bar doesn’t aid the cause. Before they set off, they’re warned not to deviate from the path. Of course, they do and that’s when their real troubles begin.
They encounter a cruel and secretive mountain cult known as The Foundation – led by the imposing John Venable (Bill Sage). Its members live rudimentary lives. They get around outside the walls of their enclosed compound in animal skins and skulls, looking particularly fearsome. Anyone who crosses them faces swift and barbaric punishment. So it is that the hikers have unknowingly begun a journey to hell.
When his daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega) doesn’t phone him or text him for six weeks, Scott (Matthew Modine), takes a drive to where she and the others were last seen. He’s summarily dismissed by the local sheriff and then, again, by townsfolk when he starts showing around Jen’s photo and asking questions. But he won’t take “no” for an answer. He, too, has no idea what he’s walked into.
The back story – modern kids in a remote town being ill-prepared – is plausible enough. This is a fresh take on the classic “lost in the woods” horror staple. I appreciated the creativity in the script by Alan McElroy, and the way the shocks were orchestrated by director Mike Nelson. Scenes of torment, violence and gore are integral.
The acting, although hardly top shelf, gets the job done. The star of the show, Jen, as played by Vega, is given room to grow as the story unfolds. Vega is able to strike a balance between vulnerability, resolve and strength. The creepy music by Stephen Lukach adds to the feeling of foreboding that permeates the picture.
Sure, it’s far-fetched, but Wrong Turn keeps its audience on a knife’s edge, both literally and figuratively.
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Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.