Friday, February 26, 2021

Welcome To The Foundation: Wrong Turn (2021)

Wrong Turn (2021) (AKA "Wrong Turn: The Foundation")
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley and Bill Sage

Let me just drop this as early as now: this isn't one of the Wrong Turn movies you grew up with all the way back in 2003. 

The scene opens with Scott Shaw asking the sheriff of a small Virginia town about his missing daughter, Jen, who hadn't reached out to her family from her hiking adventure with friends for over six weeks at that point. He's not getting the help he needs, though, as despite the town being the last place his daughter stopped by before seemingly disappearing, they're more willing to sweep it all under the rug and pass the issue as another missing teens case.

Flashback six weeks earlier and we see Jen and company do the usual traveling-teens-to-the-woods gig of bar hopping, getting roughed up by unfriendly locals and ignoring the very important rule of staying on the damn trail. Being the adventurous types, they nevertheless went off into the uncharted woods for better memories that I'm quite sure didn't involve any gigantic rolling log that crushes one of them dead. 

Convinced the rolled log was an attack after apparently spotting some figures skulking around in the woods, the group ventures further in an attempt to escape, only to end up lost, cold and triggering more traps. This is where the slasher bits get played somewhat straight as the teens suspect that they might have fallen victim to what looks like your usual backwoods masked slashers, enraging one of the kids into braining a masked figure with a log until their head's mush as "self-defense". This gravely leads to them getting followed by more of these animal skull-wearing fellas soon, now stalking and prowling around the forest to catch and not kill them. Yet. 

By then, the teen slasher element stops and the survivalist backwoods thriller begins; in a daring curveball, the now captured teens are walked into a hidden community deep in the Appalachian mountains simply dubbed as The Foundation, where every member lives a life as close as possible to early day settlers. Our hapless gang are soon judged in their court for, ironically, murder when it turns out the masked figure they pulped headless was actually trying to help them. The guilty one gets the same log-to-the-face treatment, while the rest were to be sentenced to "darkness", which is modern day settler folk lingo for shutting-your-eyes-close-with-hot-iron-before-being-hurled-into-a-spooky-dark-cave.

Jen, thinking on her feet, fortunately convinces the court to spare her and her boyfriend Darius' lives by allowing themselves to become one with the community, which pleases the Foundation's leader Cullen as he sets his eyes on making Jen his new wife.

Now that we all have caught up to what went down, back to the present we go and Papa Shaw finally have someone around the nearby town agreeing to help him get his daughter back, but will he survive his own rescue mission when the woods are filled with traps, all under the watchful eye of The Foundation?

As you can tell from all of this, gone are the mutant cannibals and in goes a survivalist mini-epic, straying this film far from being another trashy entry to a slasher franchise that went a tad too far on the gore and thinning plot line the more sequels it pumped. Much like the case of House of Wax (2005), Black Christmas (2006) and Child's Play (2019), Wrong Turn (2021) can be a worthwhile watch when viewed as its own kind of beast and for what it dished out, I say it done its job good enough through its own set of charms.

I do like the unexpected twists of our supposed villains being no more than just people defending their way of life, despite how hostile and barbaric they can be through a different set of perspectives. The matter that there's a bit of power play within the community and that some of its members still shows a side of malice do keep the Foundation as much of an intimidating force as possible nevertheless, which I find greatly essential to make its last third act to work and its final scenes satisfying to sit through. Despite not having the same brand of B-grade splashy gore and violence the Wrong Turn franchise became infamous for through its sequels, this film instead handles its gory in a more essential sense, keeping the brutalizing acts in minimum but knows enough timing to showcase some impressively nasty-looking aftermath corpses for that shock factor and dread building.

Acting-wise, Charlotte Vega, Matthew Modine and David Hutchison are simply amazing in their roles as Jen, Scott and Cullen respectively, though this is more due to them carrying a good bulk of the film while the rest of the casts are either watered down to your usual one-dimensional slasher meat, or background fodder. Its bulky running time also could have been used to develop some ideas thrown un here a tad further, such as one of the teen's sudden siding to the Foundation or how exactly does this settlement work. (I mean, here you have these people wearing animal pelts and skulls to hunt the woods like old age natives, but they apparently also know how to dress up like normal people and drive RVs. Did I miss something?)  

There's definitely some money thrown in here given the more competent-looking sets and quality work, and I'm very glad the resulting product is an appeasing work of backwoods thrills and spills that I think deserves credit where credit's due. Wrong Turn (2021) may not be the forest-bound cannibal slasher world many of us were expecting or are used to, but its a welcome variant that delivers its own brand of terror and atmosphere that works nonetheless. I say take it for a ride, or take a hike.

A hike down... to The Foundation!

1 male crushed against a tree by a rolled log
1 male had his head pulped with a log
1 female falls into a spiked pit, shot with an arrow
1 male had his face beaten in with a log
2 males crushed by a spiked trap
1 male shot
1 male shot
1 male knifed to death
1 female shot on the head
1 male shot dead with arrows
1 male gets a thrown knife to the head
1 male gets a thrown axe to the back
1 male and 1 female killed offcamera
1 male knifed to death
1 male knifed to death
Total: 17

No comments:

Post a Comment