Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wrong Turn Wednesday:
'Wrong Turn 2: Dead End'

It's the second Wednesday of 31 Nights of Halloween, so that means it's time for a look at another installment of the Wrong Turn Series.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)
Starring: Erica Leehrsen, Texas Battle, Henry Rollins, Aleksa Palladino, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, and Matthew Currie Holmes
Director: Joe Lynch
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

 The contestants and crew of a reality show are stalked by in the deep forest of West Virginia by inbred cannibal mutants who want to add them to the menu.

 "Wrong Turn 2: Dead End" is one of those surprising sequels that improves on the original. While the first "Wrong Turn" movie was a lazy collection of slasher movie tropes, the writers here actually seem to have made an effort to come up with something a little different.

While most of the characters are the usual assortment of cliches you expect to find populating a movie like this--the obnoxious hipster, the sullen goth chick, the slimy filmmaker, the nail-spitting lesbian--there is usually enough of a twist on the character to make it appealing... and if the character itself doesn't have an interesting dimension, the casting and direction is solid enough that you still regret to see the character fall victim to the marauding cannibals.

The most fun character in the film is Dale Murphy, a retired special forces colonel portrayed by Henry Rollins. A typical approach in a film like this is to have the Hollywood-type who appears to be a bad ass turn out to be all bark and no bite when the real danger manifests itself--"Wrong Turn 2" took a different approach and made Murphy every bit the bad-ass he appears as on the reality show, and then some, as well as being a heroic figure to boot. It was nice to see a character take the fight to the psychos immediately instead of waiting until cornered.

The filmmakers even managed to make the reality show conceit work, something which only the minority of the five or six other films that have tried that have managed to do. The set-up and the approach to filming it felt real to me, and the way the show's producer became a contestant and ultimately a victim was also very well handled. All in all, the filmmakers did a nice job of making me buy into the possibility that a reality show could be made like this, and they did an even better job of threading the hi-tech multi-media aspect of that set-up through the entire film.

Now, the film is not perfect. By using the same setting as the first film, they leave a big question out there: How the hell can these cannibals still be running around given the fact they were so thoroughly exposed in the first film? I find it heard to swallow that state troopers didn't flood those woods and raid every cabin spotted from the air or the ground. The easily accessible location where the film's climax took place seems particularly fantastic given the ending of the original "Wrong Turn". There are also several examples of characters being stupid just because if they weren't, the film would be a lot shorter.

But I can forgive those flaws because of Henry Rollins running around kicking cannibal butt. Having his character in the mix really makes this movie for me.

While I can't recommend you waste your time on the first film in this series, I think the fun factor in this one makes it worth checking out. I'm not saying it's a masterpiece, and you're going to need a high level for gore for the sake of gore--but if you didn't, why would you want to watch a movie featuring cannibal mutant hicks in the first place?--but there are worse movies you could waste your time on.

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