CS Interview: Matthew Modine talks Wrong Turn & love for horror genre
Just in time for the reboot’s Blu-ray release, ComingSoon.net got the opportunity to chat with Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Matthew Modine (Stranger Things) to discuss Wrong Turn and his love for the horror genre!
WARNING: Some spoilers lie ahead for 2021’s Wrong Turn
ComingSoon.net: Wrong Turn is a franchise that’s been around for a while, though I was honestly surprised it was getting rebooted so soon, but what about the project really interested in you in wanting to be a part of it?
Matthew Modine: Well, I understood it, and I loved the genre. My father was a drive-in theater manager and I grew up watching these kind of horror movies at his drive-in. A lot of Roger Corman kind of horror films, Jack Nicholson was in some of them, Boris Karloff. I mean, there were so many that we used to have what we called Dusk Till Dawn screenings, where from the time that the sun went down to the time that the sun came up, there’d be about five horror movies that we’d play. It was always a challenge to see if you could stay up and watch all five of them, and then my dad, he told me not to watch Night of the Living Dead and it was in black and white. So, instead of sitting out on the ground at the drive-in and putting the speaker next to me and watching the movie because he didn’t want me to watch it, I snuck in the projection booth and I watched it without sound sitting next to the projector and it was just absolutely terrifying. I think it was more frightening to see blood in black and white and watching a movie like that, because actually, you don’t need any sound to watch Night of the Living Dead. It’s almost a perfect old, silent movie and it really messed me up. Just as I was about to get over my fear of horror movies, I saw The Exorcist, William Friedkin’s masterpiece with Linda Blair, and just as I was about to get over it, I went through it all over again.
CS: That’s quite the double whammy of horror movies for when you’re younger.
MM: Yeah, so this was really easy for me to imagine myself in the circumstances of the character because I have a daughter, I have a son. And god forbid anything should ever happen to either one of them, if they go missing, but as a parent, mother or father, you do everything you could to go find them and rescue them from whatever peril it was that they may find themselves in.
CS: Were you familiar with the franchise prior to this one?
MM: Yes, I think the first one. I didn’t see the subsequent ones, but the first one was good.
CS: What did you think when you got the script for this one and saw how different it was from the original?
MM: Well, it was so relatable that you could imagine that, you know, if I were African American, I could relate to this film in a sense of the wrong turn that Trayvon Martin made going into a gated community, a closed community and facing that nightmare. This is a story about these kids, these young kids who go into this old town and that was their first wrong turn and then subsequently going on this hike and making a wrong turn and finding themselves in a different kind of, let’s call it a gated community, and what they’re now going to have to deal with. The wonderful thing is that the author, the original author of the Wrong Turn movies really gives it a spin and makes you have to wonder who were the bad guys? You’ve got the terrific Bill Sage playing that role, and bringing his logic and illogic to the circumstances my daughter and her boyfriend find themselves in and the others. The justice that they’re going to have to face that is The Foundation’s justice.
CS: Even though you didn’t have too many scenes with them, what was it like sort of building a rapport with Charlotte and Bill for your scenes together?
MM: With Bill, he’s just an absolute professional, he’s super charming. Also, it’s important because she was really terrific, Amy Warner, who played the lady who tells me about the people who live on the mountain. She was terrific, she ran the inn and then she comes into the bar when I’m having food and explains who The Foundation is and what I’m up against. But Bill Sage was terrific and Charlotte Vega, she’s just really professional. She showed up and she really focused on her work and that made it really easy to work with her. As I say, the circumstances of climbing the mountain and the physical aspects of making the movie, because we were on a real mountain really hiking in and really doing those things, and having a daughter, there wasn’t a lot of what you’d call acting required. I just had to, what we say, react to the situations, reacting to the environment, reacting to the physical aspects of the film, reacting to the devices that The Foundation has designed to kill people, reacting to the situation that my movie daughter found herself in.
CS: Since you do mention a lot of the physical elements of it, were you much of an outdoorsy, nature kind of person prior to this? Or did this sort of open you up for heading into the hills a little more often?
MM: I loved going hiking. I walk every day about six miles. That’s what I do for exercise, just to get out and go marching around and looking at things and try to always take a different trail, a different path, different walks through town so you see different things. It’s just a good way to get exercise and to think, which I’m not really thinking about anything. Sometimes I listen to books on tape, but you know, I love getting out. I wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, about 10 years ago I was working in England and I started walking about 10 miles a day because I said I think that’s what I could do, maybe I could do 15 miles a day on the Appalachian Trail, depending on how steep the trails were. So, I started preparing to do it and then I got Lyme Disease. Back east, we have Lyme Disease, I think it’s made its way out west, but yeah it almost killed me. You know, going on the Appalachian Trail, you would be faced with that every day. You have to do what you call tick checks and be like a monkey with whoever it is you’re hiking with and really groom each other every day because you just don’t want to get that. The tick is so small, it’s about the size of a poppyseed and boy will that spoil your day, getting Lyme Disease.
CS: Yeah I can’t even imagine, so I’m sure between that and working on this movie, the Appalachian Trail doesn’t seem quite as inviting. [laughs]
MM: Yeah, it’s not as attractive as it was before, yeah. [laughs]
CS: For this film because you get your fair share of wounds in it, what was it like sort of filming those sequences?
MM: Well, I had a good time. I mean, it was really fun. The director Mike Nelson, he was really prepared and knew what he wanted, so he really understood the genre and he knew how to cut together an action sequence so that it was fun and dramatic. So I got to say, it was a really pleasurable experience making the movie.
CS: If they were able to find a narrative path for you to return along with everybody else, would you be open to it?
MM: The survivors. Yeah, I would love to hear how that could be turned into a sequel, you know, to have a sequel to that story. But I guess more of those people from The Foundation would come down. That would be my one critique of the movie was they put that title card at the end of the movie after and I think a lot of people might walk out of the movie at that moment not realizing that my daughter is about to kill everybody in the van, in the little camper van that they’re in. By the way, that’s my daughter singing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” in that sequence.
CS: Your actual daughter or your —?
MM: My actual daughter, Ruby, yeah, Ruby Modine singing.
CS: Oh wow, that’s awesome. I didn’t even pick up on that. Did Mike Nelson talk to her for that?
MM: Yeah, he got in contact with her. He heard her, I was playing some of her music when we were making the movie. She had an EP come out and she sent like four songs and he was like, “Wow, she’s really good. She’s really talented.” I said, “Yeah, if you ever have an opportunity, if you want her to sing something, you should contact her.” And then, he wanted to put “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” in the film, so he contacted her and they did that together. They worked on how that version, that kind of creepy version of the song — she also has a new album out also called “Infinity Mixtape.”
CS: That’s awesome, I’ll have to look into the album. What was it like for you to see the film get its limited theatrical release, and now leading up to it, it’s Blu-ray release?
MM: Well, I mean, obviously when we made the film there was no COVID and how the whole world has gone upside down in this, with this pandemic, it’s really unfortunate because I would’ve loved to have gone to see the movie in a theater with an audience. That would’ve been so much fun, I know that it’s doing very well in Australia, where they have a lot of outdoor theaters in summertime in Australia. So, there’s a lot of outdoor theaters and people going to see it and it’s a big hit down there, but yeah, I mean, you just have to do what the circumstances — where they say it’s not the cards you’re dealt, it’s the way you play them. The circumstances are what they are and people aren’t going to movie theaters, so I just look forward to the film doing as best it can on Blu-ray and streaming.
The Wrong Turn reboot will feature a cross-country hiking expedition that puts a group of friends in the land of an inclusive society called The Foundation, described as people who have lived in the mountains since before the Civil War. The friends soon discover they are under a different rule of law, and may not be the victims they thought they were.
The film is directed by Mike P. Nelson (The Domestics) from a script written by the original film’s writer Alan B. McElroy. It will be led by Spanish-British actress Charlotte Vega (The Lodgers), Matthew Modine (47 Meters Down), Damian Maffei (The Strangers: Prey at Night), Bill Sage (Hap and Leonard), Emma Dumont (The Gifted), Valerie Jane Parker (Greenleaf), Chaney Morrow (Haunt) and David Hutchinson (American Horror Story).
The horror franchise began in 2003 with a theatrical film that was a modest box office success and received generally mixed reviews, spawning a direct-to-video franchise made up of two sequels and three prequels running up to 2014 before going dormant.
Wrong Turn is now available on digital platforms and Blu-ray!