Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

   By all known laws of the universe, this movie should be a horrible piece of crap. It's a direct-to-video sequel to a modestly successful horror movie that had one vaguely recognizable actress in it, and this one virtually has none. So how is this one so friggin fun? Either some serious magic went down behind the scenes here, or I've become keen on shitty horror movies. I'm much more inclined to believe the former. I think the first thing this movie does right is that it never takes itself too seriously. It's a ridiculous movie and it's aware of this. It seems very conscious of the fact that it should be crap, and they must've had a blast defying all those expectations.

  Let me clear a few things up first. For all intents and purposes, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End isn't a good movie. It's story is creative, but paper thin. The acting is rarely better than adequate. Most of the characters are never more than cannon fodder, and the plot is little more than a thing to chain set pieces together. By all standard... standards, this is just a middle of the road less-than-average flick that's not going to do much for anyone looking for some genuine scares. Yet, like I said in my review of the first movie, these aren't really horror movies. They're "splatter-horror". It's a gross-out sub-genre that exists solely to showcase top shelf practical gore effects and to see how creative death scenes can really get. By those standards... Wrong Turn 2 is a total blast!

   Amazingly this has a better setup than the first one in a lot of ways. For one, the premise is more creative from the outset. A reality show called Ultimate Survivor: Apocalypse (or something, I don't know) is gearing up to starting filming in some remote areas in the woods of West Virginia. The same woods from the first movie. This premise not only serves up a ready-made cast of characters ripe for the picking, it's also tailored to introduce us to the characters better than the previous movie was. Instead of perfunctory meet-and-greet scenes, the basics are taken care of via snippets of the intro for the reality show. It's effective.

  More than that, the concept of this post-apocalyptic survivor show ends up keeping a lot of the contestants ignorant to the very real dangers lurking in the woods- which are now readily mistaken for just being part of the show. This illusion doesn't last for long however and contestants start meeting their bloody demises posthaste.  Which leads us to some of the best scenes and set-pieces in the movie. I mean, creative kills are the bread and butter of this genre but this movie ramped up the gross-out factor past even that of it's predecessor. What it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in gruesome production design and the gnarliest sets you could imagine.

  Again, returning as the villains is a family of inbred mutant cannibals. We're given a fair bit more info about them this time, and the movie also gives them a lot more clear-cut personality. In fact, this seems a lot more like the Hills clan from The Hills Have Eyes remake- much more of a literal family unit. Granted the makeup work done on their deformities isn't on par with it's predecessor and certainly not with the Hills' remake- but this is compensated for by how much more we get to see of them and how much more we get to see them actually do. Overall, this movie trades the atmosphere and the ominous gravitas of the first movie, for more gross in-your-face repulsiveness.

   Considering what must've been a limited budget and a very average script, I'd say the trade-offs worked in it's favor. I took no issue with them for the most part. Not only do the villains get more personality, the protagonists do too. Consider one scene where one of the contestants notices how diverse the cast of the reality show is- he manages to list them off. "He (the director) wanted a show for middle America, but he hired a lesbo, a sensitive joke, a bi-polar vegan, an extreme fuck-up, and Miss Hollywood!" It's a rather meta moment, because not only is he listing off contestants- he's also listing off the characters in the movie as well. Somehow almost all of the main characters get some actual character development and backstory. This is due in no small part to the backdrop of the reality show premise, and it keeps paying off throughout the movie.

  But, again, the real star of the movie is the gross-out moments and the gore effects. Sometimes those two things go hand in hand... and sometimes they don't. Some of the inbred mutant freaks get turned on by violence, so I'll let you think about that for a moment. Then there's also a birthing scene, and nobody wants to see what a third generation mutant inbred newborn looks like- unless you're watching this movie, then of course you do! And, you're in luck! The movie exploits every chance it has to be as gross and weird as possible and it's so much fun. But, I'd be truly remiss if I didn't mention the host of the reality show. A total Rambo type who used to be in the military. I knew right away his character was either a for-real badass, or a poser who would be first to die. I'm so glad he turned out to be the former because he ends up being one of the coolest characters in the movie.

  Wrong Turn 2 is a hell of a fun time if you're looking for blood and guts with a dash of creativity. There's so much more right about this movie than there is wrong. Sure it's cheesy and ridiculous, but for me it's part of the charm. I could ramble on about this flick for another few paragraphs, but I'll spare you. If you're looking for a crazy, over-the-top splatterfest where people get sliced, hacked, disemboweled, eaten, shot, shot with arrows, split in half, ground up like meat, eaten, tortured, and blown the hell up... look no further than this wild ride. I give it my full wholehearted recommendation. I had way more fun with it than I expected to.

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