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Movie Review: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (Fox)
Directed by Joe Lynch
Written by Turi Meyer and Al Septien

Direct-to-Video is not a great sign for a film. What most people don’t realize is that the final decision is usually not as simple as, this film is not good enough for the big screen and this one is. There are plenty of solid films, last year’s Mike Judge comedy, Idiocracy, comes to mind, that have the chops for the screen, but due to testing markets, money issues with distributors, etc. they just don’t get the chance to shine. But like I said, they’re not all bad, and the Doc has been reading all of these strange raves about this movie, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, which was released on DVD this past Tuesday.

Wrong Turn 2 got some advance screenings at film festivals, which was the only way anyone would ever see this on the big screen, and websites like Chud and Fearnet got advance copies of the DVD to view. For the most part, all of the reviews were positive. And all that was going through the Doc’s head was, “Did I see the first Wrong Turn?” I was pretty sure I did, but I couldn’t remember a damn thing about it, so I stuck it on my Netflix queue to try and jog my memory.

The original Wrong Turn, which was released in theaters in 2003, was about a bunch of youngsters played by the likes of Jeremy Sisto and Eliza Dushku getting stranded in the middle of nowhere and being attacked by mutant hillbillies. It’s basically The Hills Have Eyes or Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the social commentary. It was simply mutated hillbillies killing these people until a couple of them stepped up and killed them instead. There were some pretty nice sequences, the best taking place in a giant tree, that came off as fairly original for this type of film. Overall, nothing to write home about, but an above average horror film nonetheless.

So, while it’s not in my usual fashion to review the DTV releases, if they made more like Wrong Turn 2, I might be more inclined. Wrong Turn 2 not only surpasses the original by miles, it’s quite possibly the biggest surprise in film for 2007, and sadly, you’ll never get to see it in the theater, the environment a film like this would work best. And when I think that utter shit like The Hills Have Eyes 2 and The Messengers got released this year in wide release, it makes the Doc cry a little, it really does.

Now, don’t get crazy here, I’m not saying this is a great film by any means. The opening sequence is a sight to see with former American Idol contestant, Kimberly Caldwell, playing herself and getting split open like you’ve never seen before, not to mention getting dragged off in halves. It was very reminiscent in set-up of the opening sequence in Scream, but this would be more of a well done homage than a direct steal like most films of this genre do.

However, after that great opening bit, the film drags for a little while. The set-up shows us a new reality show, The Ultimate Survivor, which is being filmed in the backwoods of hillbilly-ville. Caldwell was on her way to the set before she got chopped into bits. Henry Rollins plays Dale, the host, and a former Marine tough guy, who will be leading the cast of reality contestants through a few days of trials that will test their skills in the wilderness, and only one will be coined…you got it, The Ultimate Survivor.

Bring on the mutated bumfucks, who could give two shits what these people are up to, they just want to kill and eat them like all good mutated bumfucks do. This leads us to the second half of the film where things get a hell of a lot better.

The first thing I noticed about this film and really liked was the toughness of our victims. One problem I’ve always had with films of this type is that usually these mutated families have been striving and thriving this way for years, and then some random average joes come around and beat them at their own game. In Wrong Turn 2, the scenario works better because we’ve actually got former military officers, athletes, etc. These are people that put to the test could probably kick some mutant ass if they had to.

Secondly, I mentioned the Scream homage. Well, this whole film is one big homage, and it works very well as a throwback to 80’s splatter-fests. There is a dinner sequence reminiscent of Chainsaw that I would go as far to say that not only does it work, it works better than the one in Chainsaw. I know I’m touching a classic scene here for horror nuts, but I’ve always found Chainsaw to be overrated, so bitch at me all you want. I’ve got a good self-esteem. The arrow through the throat from Friday the 13th gets one-upped in this film very nicely as well, I might add.

The film is also not always as straight and narrow as most of the DTV films are. The girl who you think is going to make it to the end for sure dies before the twenty-minute mark; points for that, guys. This was also the first time I think I’ve ever seen a marital spat between two mutated yokels, but don’t worry they have mutated make-up sex. That was a sequence where I was reminded of Rosario Dawson’s plight at the “Donkey Show” in Clerks II.

Joe Lynch is also a director I will be keeping my eyes out for in the future. I hope with his debut being a DTV doesn’t hurt his opportunities in the future because the dude can create terror and suspense just as well as anyone working in the field today. After a couple of more films he could be right up there with the likes of Neil Marshall (The Descent) as one of the elite modern horror filmmakers.

The strangest thing about this film though was how much I enjoyed Henry Rollins. I’ve never cared much for Rollins as an actor, or a musician for that matter, but his tough guy bullshit works well here. The rest of the actors are not award winners, but they’re a lot more interesting than the standard fare of horror victims, and Turi Meyer’s screenplay gives them enough depth to make you care about their plight and not just wait to see how they get killed.

Overall, I recommend this to anyone with a love of horror or just an entertaining film; I think die-hard action films will find plenty to enjoy as well. If gore turns you off, then this might not be for you, but if gore turns you off why the hell are you reading a review of Wrong Turn 2? But as long as you can get through an episode of CSI without wincing, then you should be fine here. I tend to not like sequels or DTV fare, so trust me, Wrong Turn 2 is a great way to scare your self silly this holiday season. Enjoy.


Sam Loomis

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