Wrong Turn (2021)

With slashers, there’s only so many ways to skin a cat (and don’t worry, no animals were harmed – that we know of – during the production of this blog post).

Wrong Turn 2021 is a near-complete reworking of the hicksploitation “original,” for lack of a better phrase.

After all, how original can a property really be when Tobe Hooper basically created the blueprint on which the WT series is based?

In the first Wrong Turn flick, way back when, a bunch of good looking people are put in peril thanks to car trouble, that time-honoured trope of the genre.

This time, it’s a bit more pedestrian so to speak.

It’s a group of hikers with a set of presuppositions about Southerners, who are about to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. Or, at least that is what they’re claiming. They really don’t have the gear to be doin’ a through-hike, and have barely enough supplies to stay the night.

After insulting a bunch of the yokel locals at the town watering hole, they make their way into the bush where they’re picked off one by one, then stupidly, encounter some secret society, turning this more into a folk horror a la The Ritual or The Wicker Man, but not up to par with either in the quality department.

The furtive lost Visigoth tribe, with some highly developed network of tunnels and of course, torches, has a leader that looks like Orson Welles, and who serves as the group’s judge, jury and executioner.

Wrong Turn 2021 thinks it’s smarter than it is, with literal discussions of what was just subtext in Texas Chainsaw Massacre (trespassing, moral relativism, etc.).

**3/4 (out of 5)

The Rental

Feuding brothers is a conceit that dates back to antiquity with the likes of Jacob and Esau, Romulus and Remus, to even now with Princes Harry and William, allegedly.

And it’s this fraternal tension narrative that drives Dave Franco’s directorial debut, The Rental.

Do-right entrepreneur Charlie and do-wrong brother Josh, along with their significant others, Michelle and Mina, rent a sprawling seaside home in Oregon, off some kind of Air B’n’B analog.

Despite their ahem, reservation reservations, the foursome head north to take a break from whatever it is Silicon Valley types do in the Bay Area to make their millions.

And in The Rental, we get a wonderful red herring off the bat in the form of a surly, and possibly bigoted home owner, who gives the renters a lay of the land, and rubs Mina (who is of Middle Eastern extraction) the wrong way.

The trip is off to a rocky start when Mina suspects the home’s caretaker of being an Islamophobe and all-around a-hole. However, the foursome has invested time and money in this weekend getaway, and figure it’s best to let things lie.

Things go smoothly until bro Charlie cheats with Josh’s paramour in the back porch hot tub, sending things southward quick.

One of the better ensemble piece horrors of the last couple of years (along with the mercurial The Invitation), The Rental has enough twists and turns to keep viewers guessing.

**** (out of 5)