Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
Starring Henry Rollins, Erica Leershen, Texas Battle, Danielle Alonso
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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