WRONG TURN (2021)
Flick is less a remake, reboot or re-imagining than basically just a woods set movie using a familiar title. The story opens with a concerned father (Matthew Modine) entering a small, rural, mountain town to find his daughter Jen (Charlotte Vega), who has gone missing. We then travel back six weeks to find Jen and her five friends (Adain Bradley, Emma Dumont, Dylan McTee, Adrian Favela and Vardaan Arora) in that same town and having a bit of a problem with some locals in a bar. While camping the next day, the group fatally encounter traps in the woods and soon a group of animal pelt and skull wearing people. In a mistake of intent, they kill one and now they are taken prisoner by “The Foundation” a society of pagan-like mountain folk who don’t tolerate intruders and want to put them on trial for their crime…and then it gets weird.
New franchise flick is directed by Mike P. Nelson (The Domestics) from a script by original Wrong Turn writer Alan B. McElroy. To sum it up, it’s as if M Night Shyamalan directed a backwoods set The Hills Have Eyes only with weird Nordic Pagans instead of redneck cannibals. Those expecting our obnoxious city folk to become happy meals, will themselves be a bit unhappy. There is still some very gruesome violence, as some of the group pay dearly for their transgressions on Foundation land. This is also where it takes a Shyamalan twist…and looses it’s grip…as the survivors are forced to make a choice of a horrible fate called “darkness” or join The Foundation. We then travel forward six weeks with Jen’s dad (Modine) going after The Foundation to rescue his daughter. It gets even weirder here, but also falls apart, as it’s just too ridiculous for it’s own good. There is a lot of bloodshed and it comes to a screwed up ending, that extends into the end credits. After what we’ve sat through, though, why not? Overall, there is an appreciation for trying something new and there are some effective moments and some disturbing ones. The cast perform well and Vega makes a solid heroine, but maybe it’s a bit too M. Night (circa The Village) when it could should have stayed more Tobe Hooper (circa Chainsaw).
THE LODGERS (2017)
Creepy flick is set in 1920’s Ireland in an old mansion where twins Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) preside alone after the suicide of their parents. There is something unnatural there with them, something that decrees that they must be in bed by midnight, never let in strangers and never leave the estate. But their trust fund has run out and Rachel starts to feel the desires of womanhood when handsome Sean (Eugene Simon) comes home from the war. Can Rachel escape the curse and her increasingly disturbed brother, or is there a worse fate in store for her?
Irish supernatural thriller is stylishly directed by Brian O’Malley (Let Us Prey) from a script by David Turpin. The film is loaded with atmosphere and is very creepy, especially when we get some last act details on what fate awaits the twins and some truths about their family’s past. It’s a methodically paced film and is more about the mood of dread and foreboding than physical horror, though there is a little bloodshed, too. On that level it works very well in giving us goosebumps as we watch Rachel try to escape this curse that claimed her parents and their parents and so on. If you are looking for body count or intense scares look elsewhere, as this is about a prevailing spookiness which director O’Malley provides. He has a really effective visual style and makes great use of the decrepit old house setting and some water based imagery for the supernatural elements. There is some really atmospheric cinematography by Richard Kendrick and an appropriately Gothic score credited to Stephen Shannon, Kevin Murphy and writer David Turpin. It’s a slow burn chiller, but if you go in expecting something more on a Crimson Peak level, it is very unsettling and spooky.
The cast was very effective as well. Charlotte Vega presents us with a sad young woman, who is determine not to share the fate of her parents and ancestors. She evokes the feeling of being trapped in an undeserved fate, yet also gives us the tinges of desire of a woman come of age. Bill Milner is very creepy as the deranged Edward. He embraces his cursed life completely and he can be very chilling as he tries to convince his twin to accept it, too. Rounding out the main cast is Eugene Simon as handsome WWI vet Sean. Sean is rejected by the townsfolk upon his return for fighting with the English. That combined with the loss of a leg, makes him a lonely and sympathetic character, who finds a kinship with Rachel aside from the physical attraction. It makes for an interesting triangle as Edward’s unnatural attachment to his sister evokes a growing jealousy.
This flick may not be for everyone, especially those looking for more visceral horror like in O’Malley’s Let Us Prey. It is a more Gothic thriller and thus relies on atmosphere and dark moods to tell it’s tale of supernatural horror. The performances help guide the tale of a family cursed and the director knows how to build tension and dread to go with his spooky visuals. Yes, it’s slow moving and with only a few moments of bloody action, but still a very disturbing and creepy film from Brian O’Malley.
Rated 3 black birds.