Up until this new iteration of Wrong Turn from director Mike P. Nelson, the backwoods cannibalism of the franchise has torn through six movies and countless body parts. Original writer and creator Alan McElroy returns to reinvent the series for 2021, keeping the over-the-top booby traps intact while also injecting a little Nordic folklore and Appalachian justice into the mix. Three-finger, the cannibal we’ve come to know and love over the past six entries is jettisoned in favor of a group of barbaric settlers calling themselves The Foundation.
Veering off the Appalachian Trail, a group of diverse hikers find themselves ensnared by a series of trip wires and deadfalls, falling prey to the dangers of the woods. Only one of them is prepared for this in any real way. Jen, played intensely by star Charlotte Vega, is resourceful from the get-go, biding her time until her Dad (Matthew Modine) can come to the rescue. But did she really ever need rescuing in the first place?
Talking with Vega about her surprising transformation in Wrong Turn, we also touched on the diverse cast she’s a part of, the story-telling capability and sheer star power of Matthew Modine, and how she’d like to tackle more action in the future.
Synopsis: Despite warnings to stick to the Appalachian Trail, hikers stray off course and cross into land inhabited by a hidden community of mountain dwellers who use deadly means to protect their way of life. Suddenly under siege, the friends seem headed to the point of no return — unless one man can reach them in time.
Dread Central: I just watched the movie. What a fantastic ending. We’re not really going to talk about it too much but I thought it was edited really well and the credits scene is great.
Charlotte Vega: Yeah, I’m a little bit worried that people will miss it if they end the film too quickly.
DC: Do you think that this version of Wrong Turn may be the Fast & Furious 4 of the franchise that really takes it in a whole new direction?
CV: Yeah, I definitely think it’s totally different. It’s a whole different take. Maybe number seven is the right moment to do it, to take it in a different direction. Some people might think it’s a wrong turn, I guess people will use that a lot. But, yes, it’s a whole new direction and hopefully one that people will enjoy.
DC: Only corny reviewers are going to use that as a headline.
CV: I think I might have seen one or two already.
DC: Did you see the original Wrong Turn? You definitely channel some of the badassery of Eliza Dushku in this.
CV: Oh thank you, she’s amazing. I hadn’t seen them because I hadn’t watched much horror growing up because I was such a scaredy cat. I called some friends over and we watched it because I was like, oh my God, if this is really scary I need someone with me. I really, really thoroughly enjoyed it actually and it really surprised me. I felt like I’d missed out.
DC: I saw some stuff that you posted on Instagram. First of all, the European poster you posted is really amazing. You also posted some fun behind the scenes stuff as well. It looks like it was a special shoot for you guys.
CV: It was honestly, I mean people probably say that all the time but we really, really had so much fun. Everyone was so lovely, we were so lucky. All the cast and all the crew. We were kind of stuck in the middle of nowhere. We only really had each other so thank God we all got on well. They really made it the experience it was.
DC: What’s the story about everyone in the cast just showing up and wearing dungarees on the last day? That’s so cute.
CV: Oh! Nobody’s asked about that, that was brilliant. My character Jen wears dungarees throughout, you know, the first half of the film. I think we were maybe having some drinks, a lot of us one night, and someone said why don’t we all turn up in dungarees tomorrow? As an homage to Jen. A lot of people went out and bought some and we were all wearing dungarees late into the night on out last day…it was very cool and very fun.
DC: I love the solidarity in fashion. If we could talk about the cast a little bit, what was it like working with Matthew Modine? Did he give any life lessons or acting advice? Had you seen a lot of his films before or Stranger Things?
CV: Matthew’s amazing and everyone loved him on set. He wasn’t just like chilling out on his own in his trailer. He was always there wanting to get stuck in and get his hands dirty. He was always, always telling stories, just life stories. So I felt like we could all learn a little bit every time he said something. He spoke so eloquently, it just felt like storytelling. It was really beautiful actually. It was just amazing to get to listen to him and watch him work and see just how genuine he was on set. I definitely really appreciated that.
DC: I kind of want him to be my Dad now after seeing him in this. I like how diverse the cast is in your group and it’s great to see more of that and see it become more mainstream. And then, when The Foundation comes in everyone is exactly the same and decidedly pale face. That wasn’t a coincidence. It’s a subtle commentary but it’s noticeable.
CV: Yeah, absolutely. And I appreciate that it’s something that’s there but it’s not drawn on too long just with the group of friends. Obviously, they’re in Virginia and they’re a little bit worried about people’s reactions to them but it’s not drawn out because that’s what a normal group of friends looks like most of the time. And that’s what is should be. I guess it’s kind of sad that we have to comment on it but that’s the way it was written in the first place in the script.
DC: I liked Dylan McTee’s comment, who plays Adam, that now you guys can scare another generation of twelve-year-olds who shouldn’t be watching. And you should feel proud of that responsibility.
CV: (laughs) Dylan always comes up with the best ones, he’s mad. But yes, I’m hoping to scare a lot of youngins like I would have been.
DC: Do you think this movie appeals to your sense of adventure or does it make you never want to go backpacking?
CV: Nothing could ever take away my desperate love for moving around and backpacking. Even Wrong Turn. I’ll always as soon as I can get my backpack and get out there.
DC: That’s great. Your scenes with Bill Sage who plays the leader of The Foundation were all pretty memorable. It’s an interesting switch your character has to do from being a normal, modern kid to suddenly going native in this patriarchal new society.
CV: Yeah, Bill is honestly amazing. I think he’s so talented and just the loveliest person. A lot of the time the villains actually end up being the loveliest people…of actors. He has this incredible presence so he really helped to get in the mood. The whole location that they had for The Foundation really helped, as well, but it was a complete different mindset, of course. Having to be this whole other Jen but that was really cool and Mike [Nelson] was there to guide us through it all.
DC: All of the traps The Foundation set are pretty horrifying and part of me wants to learn how to make them. Were you ever curious about learning how to make some of those booby traps?
CV: Well, I hadn’t thought about it in that way but I did think they were sooo crazy. Every time I see the traps and when they’re in your face, every time I get a fright because they’re so terrifying. The way they came up with them is just amazing. I wouldn’t want to come across one though. Ever.
DC: No. That’s kind of the motto of the movie: Stay on the trail. Always stay on the trail.
CV: Good advice.
DC: Do you think there’s going to be something else in the future of the Wrong Turn franchise? Do you see more of these coming down the mountain, so to speak?
CV: I see it. Let’s say, we all see it. There’s so many possible outcomes of this. I was chatting to my brother about it and we got really excited thinking of all the ways they could do a sequel…something really cool could come out of that but who knows. I’m not involved in that decision making but I think that would be amazing.
DC: Is your next project in the genre? I could definitely see you moving into some hardcore John Wick action territory after this. Does that idea get you excited?
CV: Yes, very much. I love a bit of action and I think there’s going to be a little bit in my next project so I’m excited about that.
DC: Is it a straight up action film or does it have any genre elements? Any sci-fi or horror elements?
CV: I wouldn’t say it’s horror, it’s hard to pin. It’s not really a horror or just an action film but there’s a little bit involved. I can’t really say anything else because it’s such early days. It’s exciting for sure.
DC: Of course. You really become a survivor in this. You get to play two parts so it must have been a cool role.
CV: Yeah, it’s such a treat for an actor to have such an arc for a character throughout the film. But it also makes sense, it’s not unrealistic. We don’t know — hopefully and fortunately that we’re not put in situations like that, such extreme situations — what we would react like. Maybe you’re an Adam, maybe you’re a Luis…and maybe you’re a Jen and you don’t know what that’s going to be until you’re put in that kind of situation. She’s obviously very, very brave and I don’t know if I would be that brave. But it’s believable because she just had to find that. It’s not like she’s just this superhero. It’s real.
DC: I think I would be first to fall in a pit. In the woods. The movie does make me want to be a better survivalist but if we were all better campers there probably wouldn’t be as many horror movies, right?
CV: True! True, true.
DC: Well, Charlotte you’re awesome in this…and remember to always stay on the trail.
Wrong Turn will be available on VOD, digital, DVD, and Blu-ray on February 23rd from Saban Films.