Wrong Turn review – skull-crushing Appalachian horror

It’s pretty crass and generic, yet there is occasionally a wacky sort of gonzo energy to this horror from director Mike P Nelson, the seventh movie in the Wrong Turn slasher franchise, which began back in 2003 in the classic 70s style of The Hills Have Eyes. This is also a kind of reboot or summation in that it is called, simply, Wrong Turn, like the first one, without the number 7.

The Anglo-Spanish actor Charlotte Vega plays Jen, a fresh-faced twentysomething hiking the Appalachian trail with a group of her friends. After rashly deciding to go off the official path, into the dense woodland, in search of a “civil war fort” (an ominous destination if ever there was one), they are gruesomely set upon by sinister hillbillies and mountain men dressed in weird animal furs and skulls like Trumpites invading the Capitol. Jen’s earnest dad, Scott (Matthew Modine), comes looking for her, only to discover something horrifying about who these mountain folk actually are and the strange alternative society they have built in secret deep in the forest wilderness for a century or more.

This film really is horribly violent, with people getting their skulls crushed, heads bashed in, ribcages collapsed and generally mutilated in all sorts of loathsome ways. It is by-the-numbers stuff, but the film starts to up its game when we find ourselves in the weird proto-post-apocalyptic society in the hills that has stayed the same since the 19th century (but which, apparently, was founded on non-racial lines in opposition to the Confederacy and the Union). Jen gets a bit of a story arc that goes a little beyond the survivalist pieties of the Final Girl. It’s a bit silly and queasy, but the narrative motor keeps humming.

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Wrong Turn is released on digital platforms on 26 February.


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