Movie of the Day: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

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The Film: Wrong Turn 2 (2007)

Buy it from CHUD here!!!!

The Principles: Joe Lynch (Director), Henry Rollins, Erica Leerhsen, Aleksa Palladino
The Premise: A bunch of cannibal heathens from backwoods West Virginia have sex, babies and a flat out bloody good time.

Is It Good: I wouldn’t call the first Wrong Turn horrible, but I might say it wasn’t memorable.  One of the best looking young casts (led by the Buffy veteran Eliza Dushku) out there mixed with Stan “the man” Winston as a Producer and his award winning special effects company doing the prosthetics and you have a recipe for a better than average horror film.  Unfortunately it maybe stayed too close to Deliverance in story telling while failing to capture the fun of a Friday the 13th film.  That was the reason the sequels were doomed to direct 2 DVD releases, and destined to be overlooked.

Wrong Turn 2 is more in line with what was expected from the original.  Replacing Dushku with Rollins was a genius move to inject new energy and generate a reason to assemble such a pretty cast worked much better than the vacation bound hotties from the predecessor.  They are filming a reality TV show that has a ton of issues in logic, but as that is not the focal point of the film for more than 10 minutes it works.  I know Busta Rhymes did it with Halloween, but that was a reality show about Michael Myers, this is a reality show hijacked by radioactive hillbillies.  Nothing speaks scary like a family right out of a Jeff Foxworthy joke, except maybe Larry the Cable Guy.

The sequel truly comes out firing on all cylinders, except maybe the acting talent, but more on that later.  Gore is everywhere. The mutants behead, disembowel and shred bodies, effectively upping the body count as well as the red sauce.  While the prosthetics used by the toxic inbreeds are nowhere near the quality of the original Wrong Turn, they still work effectively well considering the budgetary boundaries of a Direct to Video release.

Rollins is an extremely charismatic lead who effectively portrays a badass marine who originated in the same valleys the radioactive rednecks inhabitated.  Definitively more macho than his role on Sons of Anarchy, but just as central to the plot, he mimics John Rambo with his TNT laced arrows that spray 10 times the amount of flesh and blood than a body truly contains.  The other actors range in talent from the talented Aleksa Palladino (Jimmy Darmody’s wife Angela on Boardwalk Empire) playing to her outwardly frail but inwardly strong talents, to the completely derift of any convincing emotion Erica Leerhsen.  Her poor performance in the leading female role almost turns this otherwise fun ride into something not worth the time or effort to put into a DVD player.  The thing that amazed me is the few other roles I have seen the actress in I genuinely liked her performances (she was the one standout I remember in Blair Witch 2), but her character came across with as much emotion as a piece of cardboard.  Even more amazing was the fact that the the mongrel daughter character with a ton of makeup was much more emotionally convincing.  I also have to mention Daniella Alonso being an Alice Braga substitute worthy of that title.  Playing a strong hispanic lesbian soldier paired with a horrible actor (much the same way as any pairing with Leerhsen) that has to perform well enough to overcome the mobile fungus that was supposed to the comic relief and she did so with ease.

Is It Worth A Look: It is this film that earned Joe Lynch his stripes.  Often linked with Adam “the Hatchet” Green as one of the modern day masters of horror (somewhat self proclaimed but oft supported by both Fangoria Magazine and Fearnet, so it must be true).  His wrap around segment in Chillerama was one of the more entertaining in the anthology film and his Knights of Badassdom has been working it’s way into a cult status even though it has yet to get any type of release.  He takes an almost dead on arrival series and creates a completely watchable and fun chapter that is well worth a look.  It’s not the best movie out there, and it could have been a hell of a lot better, but for a first time feature director with a limited video budget, this glow in the dark overall wearing grotesquery of a film definintely could have been completely unwatchable.

Random Anecdotes:

The two survivors from the original were wanted to return, but were scrapped when the budgeted was limited due to a direct to video release.

Kimberly Caldwell worked for 2 days on this film, her acting debut.  Later she would die a much more painful death by being involved in American Idol.

Cinematic Soulmates: Deliverance, Toxic Avenger, Friday the 13th, Wrong Turn


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