Wrong Turn 7: The Foundation (2021) is the most recent installment in the Wrong Turn franchise, though exploits its commonality with only the name. The film, starring Charlotte Vega, follows a group of friends who intentionally hike off-trail in the Appalachian Mountains.
It’s quite evident the original Wrong Turn (2003) screenwriter Alan B. McElroy returned.
Though in his efforts to subvert the repeated plot, McElroy’s vision is forgotten along with cannibal hillbillies.
The film would potentially be strong as a stand-alone. It has a fresh take on civilization vs. barbarism and consequential misunderstanding, elements taken from other classic horror films that range from Cannibal Holocaust to Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Also, the opening sequence in the woods is cinematically mesmerizing, creating an unseen wall between humanity and nature, which reminds me of the opening of Jeremey Saulnier’s Green Room.
The issue I have with this film is its obsolete outlook, whose plot is misaligned from an already established series and disappointing to its intended audience. Not to mention its structure, mundane dialogue, and use of unsympathetic character archetypes weaken its “foundation.”
Anticipated in most horrors, and prevalent in this film, is something I like to call ‘The False Alarm Phenomenon’. This is a trend in the horror genre that usually occurs near the beginning of the plot, in moments that portray the anticipation of the first horror scene, where there is often a “false alarm” when the protagonists experience an event that is surprising to the audience. In reality, the event turns out to be a brief scare unrelated to the antagonist of the film. Soon after however, the first true horror event does in fact occur, this time with a heightened sense of surprise and fear.
After the occurrence of this standard theme, the first few deaths were entertaining and set a higher expectation for the rest, which knowing this franchise, I mean more gore. This reboot not only lacked body horror but eliminated torture-porn all together, ending with a rather banal “final girl.” A bitter-sweet take.
As a final note, I have heavily mixed feelings about Wrong Turn (2021), even after sleeping on my thoughts. This would’ve been a successful B-Horror if released as a stand-alone. But here’s the thing: When you put your name on a recognizable franchise it can improve or diminish your credibility, regardless of its well-intentioned and rather brilliant concept. On the other hand, sometimes concepts are good at being just that — concepts.
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