by Hope Madden
Writer/director Mark P. Nelson is kind of fixated on the social rifts in America.
His 2018 film Domestics followed the aftermath of an apocalypse intentionally deployed by a ruling class looking to thin the herd. The smaller herds only fracture into groups of radicalized, violent maniacs, though, and even your white bread nuclear family types are threatened.
Which is to say, this filmmaker brings a different perspective to the inbred cannibal franchise, Wrong Turn.
Yes, big city liberals on a hiking trip run afoul of Virginia rednecks. But where Nelson varies from the script of the 2003 original is in reimagining the antagonists.
We know there’s trouble afoot from the opening scene when Matthew Modine drives into the quaint Virginia town looking for his character Scott’s missing daughter (Charlotte Vega). The lovely blonde was last seen here, along with her African American boyfriend, another heterosexual couple, and a gay couple, one of whom is Muslim.
Because apparently not one of these people has ever seen a horror movie.
The film gets into trouble early by conjuring moments from Tucker and Dale vs Evil, which is a great movie. It’s an insightful lampooning of movies just like the one Nelson is trying to make, though.
Nelson’s more successful when he borrows a bit from the likes of Green Room and The Ritual, although he plants Wrong Turn’s folkloric barbarism firmly on American soil. This is a film about America.
If you’re looking for a movie about cannibal families, you will most definitely be disappointed.
The horror is less unseemly, all of it in support of Nelson’s image of a divided America. There are some startling moments of gore, and other more harrowing ideas that suit the picture well.
Nelson takes too long getting to the point, unfortunately. The film runs just under two hours, which is at least 20 minutes too long. A trimmer runtime might have helped the film leave more of a mark. Instead, Wrong Turn is a decent if unremarkable backwoods thriller.