Directed by Joe Lynch
Man, it’s been a long time coming for this one. Last year about this time I got the chance to visit the set of Joe Lynch’s directorial debut (read about it here) and what I saw impressed the hell out of me. Lynch is a horror fan’s director without a doubt and I’m happy to say Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is everything I wanted it to be. Hopefully this is only the beginning of the man’s career.
Now, before I go on know this; Wrong Turn 2 is not groundbreaking. This is not a brand new kind of film nor does it contain anything you haven’t seen before. You have, it’s just all done a helluva better here because a guy who’s a horror fan himself and knows what we want in a movie was behind it. And that is what makes it special.
The setting for the sequel is based around a reality show called “Ultimate Survivor: Apocalypse”. The show’s premise is that six survivors have to live through five days in a post-apocalyptic world, given only their wits to survive, for a shot at $100,000. There are some ground rules laid out but really you won’t need to pay a lot of attention to them because the insanity kicks in almost from the word “go”.
You see whoever set up the show did some very shitty research, or they probably would’ve found out that these particular West Virginia woodlands are populated with a family of inbred mutant cannibals. I guess that’s just one of those things you could easily miss while interviewing the local populace. Rollins plays Retired Marine Sergeant Dale Murphy, the show’s host and truly a man who could survive the elements if he has to. And luckily for us, he does.
The contestants are put into pairs and sent out to begin the show, their personalities clashing for a variety of reasons, though thankfully Lynch and screenwriters Turi Meyer and Al Septien gave them all enough of an arc to keep them from seeming like cardboard cut-outs … for as long as they manage to survive, that is.
The aforementioned family appreciates their arrival because, really, you can never have enough meat if you’re a growing cannibal with kids to feed, and they make short work out of most of these wannabe celebrities.
And the deaths are nasty, too. Lynch really went all out to make sure that no one got away easily, be they mutant or contestant. You can tell a lot of thought and planning went into the kills to ensure they were all memorable for their own reasons, no easy task when you consider the one that opens the damn film. Messy. Anyone who can appreciate good, violent deaths will get a major kick out of Wrong Turn 2; this is the kind of movie that would have festival crowds screaming if Fox gave it more than a DTV release.
Even though it’s fun to watch people get slaughtered in interesting ways, there’s more to the story than that. For example the family of mutants really does feel like a family, something that hasn’t been done really well since the original Hills Have Eyes. In the first Wrong Turn their relationship was more implied than anything else; this time out every effort is made to show that, even though they’re all hideous freaks who eat people, they’re still a human family at their core. It’s not done in such a way where you’re even supposed to sympathize with them like in Devil’s Rejects, either; I felt is was done to help give an understanding as to why these people keep doing these horrible things.
Any review of this film would be negligent to not make mention of what a badass Henry Rollins is. This is the kind of role Hank needs to get his hands on every couple of years so people never forget that he still kicks ass. We were promised Rollins vs. mutant action, and boy do we get it. He beats the shit out of them, blows them up, infiltrates their home Marine-style; hell, he even quips now and then! Why the hell Rollins doesn’t get more roles like this is beyond me. Hopefully Wrong Turn 2: Dead End will fix that.
Yes there are issues; some of the dialogue is cheesy, one character in particular is eye-gougingly annoying and some serious plot holes are present if you’re critical enough to look for them. But basically what I came away from this film thinking was that Joe Lynch is a director who was given a project that had every reason to suck and tried his damndest to make sure it didn’t, and by God he succeeded. I can’t wait to see what this guy can do with an original idea to work from instead of studio-funded direct-to-DVD sequel; the supposed “splat pack” are in for some serious competition when he gets a chance.
If you’re a fan of Wrong Turn (also a movie that had every right to suck and didn’t), chances are you’re going to love Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Lynch has crafted a sequel using everything that worked form the first film and adding just enough new elements to make it stand out. A back-to-back showing of the two would make for a damn good time, and probably help you spot some of the subtle nods to the original film, as well.
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is on DVD October 9th, 2007 so you had better check it out!
3 1/2 out of 5
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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