Starring: Henry Rollins, Erica Leershen, Texas Battle, Steve Braun, Daniella Alonso
One year after the events of the first film, ''Wrong Turn 2'' has a group of disparate individuals get together to try and win $100,000 by appearing in a post-apocalyptic "Survivor" like reality show crossed with a Battle Royale theme. Both the contestants and film crew find themselves at the mercy of Three-Finger and his family of mutant cannibals.
Wrong Turn 2 is another movie that I had dismissed on its release. I liked the first, the initial draw being Eliza Dushku. I would take any opportunity to watch Eliza squeezed into a micro T-shirt and running for her life unless it was Tru Calling. The original Wrong Turn movie had slick production values and some tension although I didn't think it warranted a sequel and despite my well intended support for low budget DTV movies, I do find myself having some measure of snobbery still to this day. (unless it's the zombie genre where I seem to watch any old crap). However, word-of-mouth led me to tracking down a copy of this and I'm glad I did.
I have to say that the main reason that I gave this a wide berth was the truly terrible sequel to the remake of Hills Have Eyes.
Wrong Turn 2
is infinitely better than that turkey.
From the credit sequence it was clear someone had put some thought into this movie and although it's fairly generic, I'd argue and say that the production took some pretty big risks with content and direction. It's not quite a comedy and not quite the po-faced drama that the original movie ended up being (Wrong Turn took itself seriously, where as Dead End plainly doesn't).
The movie starts with Kimberly Caldwell, seemingly playing herself, driving along a country road moaning at her agent that she can’t find the location of a new reality show she will be appearing in. She hits someone/something and stops to help. Her good nature is rewarded by having her bottom lip torn off, followed by being cut vertically in half by the survivor of the first movie; Three-Finger. As the titles roll we realise we have been given a clear signpost as to what this movie’s going to be like. The more squeamish are given adequate warning to switch off and watch Shrek 3 or something.
The film then introduces us to the main characters: Nina, the loner goth (The gorgeous Erica Leershen seen in Blair Witch 2, and the remake of Texas Chainsaw); Jonesy a fairly irritating joker (Steve Bruan – you’d recognise him from a host of US TV work); Jake, the athletic one (Texas Battle, from 119 episodes of The Bold and the Beautiful); Amber, a tough military type (Daniella Alonso, who was in the rubbish Hills Have Eyes 2 movie); Elena, who’ll do anything for the camera’s attention (Crystal Lowe – has been in loads. Often described as “*insert* girl” on imdb. Presumably Cerina Vincent is too expensive now).
They’re in the middle of nowhere to shoot a new reality show that is set in a post-apocalyptic scenario. This show is headed up by a retired commander called Dale Murphy (played by Henry Rollins). The group appear to have been chosen specifically so there will be personality clashes; typical for a reality show such as this.Kimberley was on her way to star in this show, so when she fails to arrive, Mara (one of the producers, played by Aleksa Palladino, The Ring Two) reluctantly fills in.
With all cell-phones removed and special sensor-activated “tasks” peppered throughout the radius of the reality show’s area, Murphy explains the rules and lets them begin. No sooner have they done so and a producer is killed, whilst Murphy is incapacitated and dragged away to the mutant’s lair.
Mara is paired with Nina. Nina, it transpires, has other reasons for wanting to be on this show. As the pair bond, Mara witnesses her boyfriend Michael (Mathew Currie Holmes, The Fog) getting some oral relief from Elena, who thinks this will “up” the ratings for her. They visit a nearby cabin only to find “Ma” giving birth. They’re seen by the mutants and manage to escape, with them hot on their tail. Mara is taken out by an axe to the head, but Nina manages to hide. Mara is taken away as the cannibals string her up on to their vehicle. Nina looks for other survivors.
None the wiser, Michael goes back to the RV whilst Elena attempts to get a tan by the water. A young male cannibal watches and masturbates, but is caught by “sister” who fights with him setting off one of Murphy’s task alarms. As Sister rushes at Elena, Elena trips and falls into the lake. In one of the movie’s grosser scenes (more because it’s the most realistic looking attack) Sister rakes Elena’s back with a knife, exposing torn muscle and bone underneath.
At the RV, Michael is watching the CCTV when he is hit by an arrow. He is then taken to the cannibals lair where he is decapitated. This was the only scene that I found distasteful. The viewer is witnessing this via one of the cameras and it is too similar to the execution of GIs or prisoners, by insurgents. Murphy finds an opportunity to escape and gets away.
Jonesy and Amber find Jake at a clearing where it looks as if someone is having a barbecue. Hungry, they pick at the meat roasting on a spit. Nina runs into the clearing telling the others about what happened. They think it’s part of the show at first, but Jonesy recognises Kimberly’s signature tattoo on the joint of meat they’ve been eating and Nina’s story then makes sense.
Murphy comes across The Old Man (another character from the previous movie) and soon realises that he’s the cannibal’s original non-mutated Father. After a brief fight, Murphy kills the old man.
Not long after, Jonesy and Amber fall foul of a trap and are shot to death with arrows. Nina and Jake get captured and brought back to the mutant’s “home”. Like most survival horrors, the antagonist’s dwelling is made up of the belongings of their kills.
Nina is tortured by being fed a nasty looking stew of human flesh. Murphy gets to the compound and manages to take out a number of mutants before succumbing to a necklace of razor wire. Nina manages to escape, meeting Jake to help kill off a number of mutants with the help of a meat grinder. They find Kimberley’s abandoned car and get out of the area.
The film ends with the still alive Three-Finger feeding the newborn mutant baby Splooge with Mara's finger and a bottle. His laugh can be heard over the end credits.
For the most part, the performances are what you’d expect from a film of this nature. There is no defining performance but there’s no obviously terrible performance. I look on that as a particular positive in Wrong Turn 2.
There is suspense, on occasion, but admittedly the movie thrills because of the interesting gore effects. From the opening split down the middle to the closing meat grinder, the blood flows thick and fast. The downside of this is the strangely poor mutant cannibal effects. They look as if they weren’t supposed to be lingered upon, by the camera, so that we wouldn’t see them in a well lit scene. I have no problem with this approach, if it saves money where possible. However, if you’re going to linger on the faces of the antagonists, as the camera does, then the make up has to be a little better. Compare the cannibal make-up to the other effects and it’s like two FX houses were involved. A similar comparison is the Sullivan effects to the KNB effects in Evil Dead 2. Whilst Sullivan was endlessly inventive he didn’t have the full FX budget that KNB had.
For a first time director, Joe Lynch handles the material very well. There is a pacing that Hills Have Eyes 2, for example, never had. There are some twists and turns too. Characters that you’d expect to survive and win the day, don’t. Now I know that modern horror movie directors do try and reverse the conventions but this has been going on since Romero unexpectedly killed Duane in Night of the Living Dead so cynicism should be cast aside. Rollins gives a fine performance as the newly motivated Murphy who does a “Rambo” and returns to his training to try and rescue the survivors from the mutants.
There’s plenty for everyone too. If you like bare breasts in your horrors, then Crystal Lowe shouldn’t disappoint. On the other hand, there are strong female performances from Erica Leershen and Danielle Alonso. The score by Bear McCreary is typically effective like his scores for the Rest Stop movies.
Ok, this movie’s not high art, that much should be obvious, but it’s entertaining in a way that only good DTV titles can be. It harks back to the monster movies of the late 80s where make up FX artists appeared to want to showcase their talents and writers/directors attempted to come up with the most inventive killings. If you missed this first time around, like I did, it’s worth buying a copy. I will certainly be watching it again.
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