18 years after Rob Schmidt’s modern backwood classic “Wrong Turn” marked the start of one of the most enduring horror series of modern times, “The Domestics” director Mike P. Nelson is now releasing the first remake. WRONG TURN – THE FOUNDATION It only follows the old lines to a limited extent, but a lot remains the same. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Wrong Turn (DE/USA/UK 2021)
The plot summary
Jen (Charlotte Vega) and her friends are vacationing near the Appalachian Trail, a well-known scenic hiking route. Despite warnings to stay on the paved paths, the group deviates from course – and enters the land of the “Foundation”, a hidden community of mountain dwellers who use deadly means to protect their self-sufficient way of life far from civilization. The young adults who suddenly find themselves in the clutches of violent strangers also feel this. There seems to be no turning back – unless Jen’s father (Matthew Modine) can reach the troops in time. He has long since started looking for his missing daughter and, with a photo of her, sets out to search for the missing people…
When the American screenwriter Alan McElroy came up with the idea for his backwood horror series “Wrong Turn” in the early 2000s, he had already gained experience with long-lasting genre franchises. He made his debut in 1988 with his script for “Halloween IV – Michael Meyers Returns”, which was followed by four more “Halloween” films, two controversial reboots and the even more popular soft reboot by David Gordon Green from 2018 . “Wrong Turn” has also had a whole series of sequels to date, five in total. Seven years ago, “Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort”, the last part of the original series, was released, which, like all the other sequels, celebrated its premiere directly in the home cinema. Now Alan McElroy is working with director Michael P. Nelson (“The Domestics”) a new edition of his own material, which was/is even granted a (limited) theatrical release in large parts of the world. Also in United Kingdom, where the original was able to attract over 200,000 cinemagoers to cinemas before the series was able to achieve its dubious cult status as home cinema entertainment, given the quality. At least in terms of directing, Michael P. Nelson breathes new life into the series, freeing the franchise from its dirt and with it its reputation as a cheap hardcore slasher saga. But although comparisons made overseas with Craig Zobel’s biting, smug human-hunting comedy “The Hunt” already gave hope for a bold realignment of the series, the “Wrong Turn” remake still sticks closely to the basic ingredients of its original and can do so only add new things to a very limited extent.
The friends make a gruesome discovery in the forest…
Certainly: In “Wrong Turn – The Foundation” (the USA title), it is not degenerate hillbilly cannibals who start the hunt for the teenagers, but rather a group of visually unobtrusive dropouts who call themselves “The Foundation” and whose backgrounds and motives we don’t want to reveal too much at this point for spoiler reasons. Nevertheless, the basis for the fears stirred up in the “Wrong Turn” of 2021 remains identical to that in the original: this time, too, it is about the fear of “those out there”, of the unknown and different – with the at least small difference that this fear this time it is bilateral. While the incest killers of the original did not start hunting them out of fear of the teenagers who would fall into their trap, but simply out of pure madness, the actions of the “Foundation” members are accompanied by deep-rooted fears. This would have been the opportunity to narratively underline the fight between good and evil – between wandering teenagers and the “Foundation” – and to take the film series in a completely new direction. But apart from the fact that the Foundation members first give big speeches before their bloody deeds in which they try to justify them, the end result only differs marginally from the 2003 model. Ultimately, the “Wrong Turn” remake is a largely simple-minded fight for survival by a group of cannon fodder teens.
“This time too it’s about the fear of “those out there”, of the unknown and different – with the small difference that this time this fear is mutual.”
One, the cameraman Nick Junkersfeld (“Studio Luma”) not nearly as drastically illustrated as we were used to from the “Wrong Turn” universe. For some franchise fans, this may even be the biggest point of criticism, after all, the series has some particularly iconic splatter sequences in recent genre history (keyword: arrow in the eye). As generically as those responsible boiled down the same formula of teens who strayed from the right path from parts two to six inclusive, they at least went wild in torturing the victims in the most drastic way possible. This even meant that parts three to five were only sold in a shortened version in this country. For the “Wrong Turn” new edition, the makers did come up with one or two particularly nasty character deaths (they seem to have particularly enjoyed smashing faces), but a dirty, unpleasant bloodlust like that Previous films are not what fans can expect here. For the realignment, Michael P. Nelson moves the franchise away from its audio-visual B-movie attitude, for which Nick Junkersfeld switches to glossy mode. In the first half hour in particular, “Wrong Turn – The Foundation” scores with colorful, elegant images that collide in an attractive way with the original focus of the series.
The Foundation lives in underground caves.
This valuable impression lasts until the moment when the blood finally begins to flow. No longer in such large quantities as before, but still steady and extensive enough to justify a FSK approval for those aged 18 and over. The early breakfast of common backwoods clichés – from the creepy-looking local to the urgent warning not to stray from the path while hiking – also reminds you of the “Wrong Turn” origins. Because as hackneyed as all of these motifs may be, they are somehow part of good form in a backwood horror film. Nevertheless, the balancing act between the familiar set pieces and the courage to try something new fails. It’s as if those responsible don’t trust their new approaches themselves. Although they establish a promising network of villains with the Foundation, they drown their menace in overly graphic murder scenes. When looking at the morbid inner structures of the community, Alan McElroy does not sufficiently penetrate the surface, preferring to concentrate on eliciting the most authentic cries of pain possible from his victims. But no matter how nasty the Foundation’s methods are, compassion is secondary here. Jen and Co. are far too experienced in fulfilling their purpose as human cannon fodder for that.
“The balancing act between the familiar set pieces and the courage to try something new fails. It’s as if those responsible don’t trust their new approaches themselves.”
The idea of giving Jen’s worried father a subplot was only partially successful. Unlike his younger colleagues, who are reduced to their victimhood, Matthew Modine is allowed to (“Sicario 2”) At least he’s acting a little here when he becomes believably afraid and anxious about his missing daughter. But ultimately his appearance is only there to let “Wrong Turn” hit another largely unnecessary plot hook shortly before the end. And it shouldn’t be the last…
Conclusion: Old blood in new veins: The “Wrong Turn” reissue “Wrong Turn – The Foundation” is too close to the original to surprise with innovation. But it strays too far from the successful formula to excite hardcore fans. So director Mike P. Nelson sits between the two stools and is unlikely to really satisfy anyone in the end.
“Wrong Turn – The Foundation” is scheduled to hit USA cinemas in 2021 and is now available on US streaming services.