Wrong Turn is the longest-running ongoing horror franchise, a fact that probably says more about horror franchises today than it does about Wrong Turn, a series whose basic premise draws from better horrors such as Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, without adding anything. Nonetheless, the series has managed to merrily make do despite its low production and marketing budgets, and occasionally deliver surprisingly good results; Part 2 was a sequel that improved on its original, and Part 4, the prequel, was really much better than any low-budget, fourth, prequel horror movie ought to be. Parts 3 and 5 were still terrible though, so it’s nice to note that this alternating pattern continues in the really quite good Wrong Turn 6.
The plot – which, following the prequel fourth and fifth movies, takes place prior to the original Wrong Turn and the series’ main villain’s death in Part 3 – begins, after a memorably nasty cold open, with Danny, its apparent new lead, inheriting a family hotel. Danny, a former Wall Street trader who recently suffered a nervous breakdown, is keen on the idea of devoting his energies to restoring and running the hotel, a former sanatorium; it is not made clear whether it is intended to be the same sanatorium from Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings. Maintaining the hotel are Sally and Jackson, a brother/sister duo memorably portrayed by Sadie Katz and Chris Jarvis. There is a predictable, but nevertheless effective, whiff of incest given off by the double act, but the way the relationship is written and performed gives much to enjoy nevertheless; Jackson is uppity, traditional and full of Appalachian pride; he spends much of the film chiding and reigning in Sally, who radiates an unsettling, dreamy, but aggressive, sexuality. And of course it’s hilarious to see Jackson having to tell off the good old hillbilly trio of Wrong Turn villains for being too keen on killing.
It’s a funny thing – horror franchises, in general, are built around their villains, and yet this film is seemingly determined to show up the recurring antagonists of the series as incompetent, stupid, unimaginative and just generally pretty lame. Personally, I’m fine with that, as I totally agree, but the series seems to be undermining itself somewhat; still, Chris Jarvis and especially Sadie Katz so easily outclass the hillbilly cannibals as villains that it’s just refreshing to see so little of them.
We really do see incredibly little of the hillbilly trio, and when we do, they’re just acting as Three Stooges-y henchmen for the hotel owners. I wonder whether Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort didn’t start life as an original project – perhaps simply entitled Last Resort – terrible pun by the way – before having been taken up as a Wrong Turn sequel. If so, I’d say good for Fox; the script contains some cool ideas, some very inventive kills, and, of all things, a compelling character arc for Danny, which is well handled by Anthony Ilott. Above all else, I want to congratulate the film on actually making me excited to see Wrong Turn 7, and I’m by no means a fan of the franchise.