It’s not every day that one can see a slasher film as a morality play, but Wrong Turn delivers on so many levels. We are supposed to see the young people as the victims of three inbred, mutant mountain men, grotesque beyond belief. But if you look at this as a modern Morality Play, then the three mutants become an unholy trinity dispersing justice and retribution for transgressions the young people make.
Morality Plays were popular during the Medieval times and have continued in one form or another. The best known example is the play Everyman. Morality Plays are allegorical in nature and usually contain personifications of various moral attributes. There’s a parallel between the personified characters of Everyman and the young people in Wrong Turn. The Strength character would have to be Chris. I mean his name is almost Christ! Kind of obvious for a protagonist. Knowledge would be Scott. His fiancé even calls him Brainiac at one point. Angel would have to be Carly and Jessie is Discretion. Evan is Good Deeds since he stays behind with Francine which makes her Beauty.
But I’m flipping this thing around and looking more at how these young people are the villains of the Morality Play. Originally in the plays, God thinks man to be too focused on the worldly things and not enough on Him, so he sends Death to remind Everyman of God’s importance and power. If we look at our setting of Bear Mtn. as a substitute paradise, then each of these young people commits a sin that Justice demands they are punished for.
Evan’s vice is drugs. Francine’s is lust. Scott constantly takes the lord’s name in vain as does Carly who also asks Scott to give her multiple orgasms. Carly’s mouth also gets her in trouble when she shows doubt or lack of faith when she says, “Jesus, did that really just happen?” All of them are guilty of home invasion. The cop gets killed because he tries to interfere with the three mountain men doing’s the Lord’s work.
The only two that survive, Chris and Jessie are spared because hiding behind the waterfall represents a kind of baptism. Jessie wears white throughout the whole film, so we know she has a chance, and Chris is our Everyman. Three of them escape a fiery purgatory of the Forrest Tower, but Carly gets an axe through her mouth cutting off her head.
So what’s the moral of this flipped Morality Play? I’m glad you asked. The moral appears to be that no matter how young, cute, and innocent you appear to be, if you transgress God’s law, he will send swift retribution and it will NOT BE PRETTY! We know there is hope for Chris and Jessie at the end because they stop and get a map. They have found a new direction. We see in the end credits an extra scene where another officer is killed by one of the mutants we thought was dead. This is to show that no matter what, you cannot kill the Unholy Trinity of God’s Wrath: Three Finger, Saw Tooth, and One Eye!