Content warning: homophobia, misogyny, racism, spoilers for the movie Wrong Turn (2021)
Beyond woke, yet the unintended result is the victims are punished for being woke. Skip it. This is not a Wrong Turn movie.David J, May 02, 2021 - 1.5/5 stars on rottentomatoes.com
It seemed pretty clear to me after watching Wrong Turn that it had a conservative message. I haven’t seen the previous movies in the franchise, but I understand they are based on some unfair stereotypes about Appalachian people, so it seems a fair enough twist even if it doesn’t resonate with me personally. When I looked at the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, however, I discovered that a good many people who seemed like they would be on-board with that perspective instead understood it to be “woke” propaganda.
In Wrong Turn (2021), a young, white, American woman, Jen, throws off the shackles of a guaranteed prominent position in her father’s construction business to hike the Appalachian trail with her boyfriend and their friends. Despite warnings from the locals, they stray off the well-worn path, and fall victim to a primitivist cult known as The Foundation.
It’s clear from the start that Jen is the character that the audience are supposed to relate to. She’s torn between the path her father has laid out for her and the ideals of her friends, and is never shown to have taken those ideals to heart personally. She is more down-to-earth and capable than the other characters - she is the one that has to change the tyre when they get a flat en-route, for example, and later she is the only one able to think on her feet in high-pressure situations.
Her boyfriend, Darius, is an idealistic, politically active black man who expresses socialist and environmentalist ideas. Their friend group are well educated young urbanites, and include a gay couple - pretty much every review of the movie describes them as “diverse”. They’re incredibly cringey to be honest - when an aggressive local accuses them of never having done a day’s work in their lives they actually start bragging about their educational achievements and white-collar jobs - all except our hero, Jen, who is just a little lost in life.
Not long after setting out they divert from the trail to find a civil-war fort that one of them is interested in. They quickly become lost, and fall victim to various traps before finally encountering, and murdering, a member of the Foundation. Shortly thereafter they are captured and taken to the Foundation’s camp.
Finally we learn what the villains of the piece are all about - not inbred hill people as expected, but an egalitarian, primitivist, socialist cult whose leader has an impeccable hipster coiffure. The surviving friends are put on trial, and their every defense is twisted back on them - they are the intruders! They rushed to judgement based on appearances! They murdered someone in cold blood! They need to respect the Foundation’s culture! Such hypocrites!
Far from being inbred, this cult thrives on the recruitment of wayward travelers who they either brainwash into accepting their ideology, or blind with a hot poker and leave to fumble in a dark cave. Really subtle stuff.
Jen and Darius are the only survivors of the trial, and only because Jen convinces the group’s leader, Venable, that they could be useful members of the community. Jen, considering herself to have no relevant skills apparently, is only able to offer herself, as Venable’s wife.
As I mentioned earlier, Jen is actually the only member of the friend group that is portrayed as having any degree of competence or skill relevant to life in the real world. The rest of them are useless, out-of-touch, and varying degrees of obnoxious. But in the woke socialist utopia of the Foundation, she is only valued for her body.
As a result of her relationship with Venable, Jen ends up pregnant. Of course she never considers a termination.
It’s true that “woke” people are amongst the victims in this movie, but more importantly it is “wokeness” that is the monster, leading good All-American girls like Jen off the conservative middle-class path and into a life of bondage, exploitation and sin. She’s the character we’re supposed to find relatable - the rest of them deserve their fate because of their embrace of “woke ideology”, and their deaths are likely intended to be entertaining for that reason. They are so in tune with the villains that Darius chooses to stay with them instead of taking the opportunity to escape.
Let me have another go at summarising what I think this movie is trying to express.
In Wrong Turn (2021), a young, white, American woman is led astray by her “woke” boyfriend and her “woke” friends. While seeking to dig up civil war history that is best left buried, they encounter the logical end-point of “woke” ideology made manifest, and it abuses them horrifically. Jen escapes thanks to the savvy and skills instilled in her by her conservative upbringing, the refusal of her father to abandon his search for her, and the kindness of the misunderstood locals. She returns to her middle-class path through life by working in the family business, and violently rejects further attempts to lead her back to the horrors of “wokeness”.
In short, this is a conservative movie espousing conservative ideals. I disagree with David J, quoted above - the characters are intentionally punished for being “woke”.
“Hollyweird is dying a slow death”
Let’s take a look at some of the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes from people who seem to have missed the point.
Its just more hand fisted political bs with pretty crappy character development.Gage S, Apr 14, 2021 - 1.5/5 stars
I guess you could interpret “hand fisted political bs” to be referring to the conservative political messaging. I choose not to.
“Woke” America is destroying our culture Absolutely irredeemableJames A, Mar 14, 2021 - 0.5/5 stars
It might seem like James gets it, if not for the 0.5 stars.
I would have given this a four, if it wasn’t for the “over the top” libtardation seen in the movie that Hollyweird so much loves these days. The mixed race couple, the gay couple, the Arab guy, the Asian guy, Black guy wearing “Black Owned” T-Shirt, The racist Sheriff, White-Guilt guy gets mad, calling Confederate monument “Racism” like a White-Knight. Pretty embarrassing stuff. Original from 2003 was better, this wasn’t bad. Hollyweird is dying a slow death, stuff like this in movies is asinine…Davis H, Mar 06, 2021 - 3/5 stars
It’s like this guy stopped watching a third of the way through. Also a pretty explicit example of how the mere existence of characters who are not straight or white is unacceptable political content to some people.
Another woke joke bad moviemichael b, Mar 07, 2021 - 0.5/5 stars
Joke’s on you, buddy.
This next one’s pretty gross and misogynistic, and you won’t miss much if you choose to skip it.
Revolves around a queer braindead friend group, which just so happens to have every single race in it. Due to the fact that the whore with the least amount of brain cells becomes a rambo bitch and survives till the end makes me not able to give this more than 4 stars. Giving this 4 stars because you get to see a dumbass friend group suffer. Also in the foundations court room they never mentioned how the foundation drew first blood with the gay dude getting a big log to the face for the last time.the b, Jun 10, 2021 - 2/5 stars
I had to highlight this one because they understood at least part of what the movie was about - watching “woke” straw-people being punished. I can’t give this review more than 4 stars however because of their views on Jen - I guess because she has sex she must be a “dumb whore”. 2/5 stars.
What strikes me about these reviews is that they reveal how the movie reinforces a conservative (or more broadly right-wing) worldview regardless of whether the viewer actually understands the messaging. Either the messaging is understood and received as intended, or the mere presence of POC and gay characters reinforces a perception of a liberal Hollywood elite pushing a “woke” agenda.