In the original Wrong Turn (2003) film, we were introduced to a modern age vision of what could happen if we go off the beaten path. When two different vehicles end up on the same gravel road in the middle of nowhere, they both end up stranded due to a booby trap that completely immobilizes the one, and the other vehicle crashes into them when the driver takes his eyes off the road for just a moment.
As the audience, we were witness to this group of people who fell victim to the hands of a cannibalistic and inbred family that lived deep in the woods of heartland America. The film had various hints of classics such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes, and relocated the situation to a place that is just as desolate but for entirely different reasons. Instead of being hunted in the middle of nowhere under the scorching sun, our group of ‘victims’ are being hunted in the thick neck of the woods where vegetation creates its own obstacles and helps camouflage our killers. It’s virtually impossible to find your way out when you can’t even see where you’re supposed to be going.
The killers in this universe are essentially alpha hunters who are not only very disciplined with their hunting methods and weapons, but they know the land layout and possess an immense amount of strength due to their genetics. All 3 of these traits provided a great advantage against our characters, resulting in a bloodbath that was entertaining and rather haunting to watch.
In 2007 we were given the sequel, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End, which took the same formula as the first but tried to up the body count. As a fan of the original, I was looking forward to see what would come about of this entry.
The film’s story sent a group of people into the woods to shoot the pilot for a brand new reality television show. The theme of this reality show was a radioactive apocalypse scenario, where the competitors have to survive in the woods with simply the clothes on their backs and a camera/microphone they wear equipped over their ears like a bluetooth device. Buried throughout the woods are little transmitters that emit a loud noise when somebody would approach them, which in turn would trigger a challenge/mini-game with the potential to send a competitor home. The winner of this show at the very end would receive $100,000 cash.
The premise is rather effective at sending a large number of people into deadly territory, and it also helps the audience by into the authenticity of what they are about to watch. Before the show can begin, everybody surrenders their cellphones to a producer, and then they are driven a few miles away from where they originally meet up.
Characters in this story are nothing special at all. They all fit the regular tropes - the director of the show, his producer, the experienced and retired fighter, the frat guy, the quiet goth girl, the slut, the jock, and the female version of the experienced fighter. Initially, we also have the female celebrity trope as a character as well, but she is the one killed off before the title screen has even flashed (in a very gory fashion, I might add). This helps prepare the audience for the amount of violence they can expect to see, and also opens us up to the addition of another character in her place - the director’s love interest who agrees to be a stand in for the pilot episode. These characters are rather one-dimensional and fall to cliches in a very obvious manner, but in my opinion it made this experience all the better when you watch them get dismembered and decapitated. I didn’t feel any real attachments to any of the characters, and the only one I did was also one of the first to be killed off.
For their credit though, all of these characters are well played by the actors and they are believable. Granted their personalities did not require much ‘fleshing out’ in the first place, but they still carry the weight that they needed to.
One thing this film pulls off better than its predecessor is the amount of insight we get into the killers themselves. In the original, they were introduced as the cannibals and inbred family that they are, but in this one we begin to understand them on a better level. They are a family that used to work at a paper mill on the outskirts of the woods. When the factory went out of business, the family stayed. Unfortunately, the factory has been depositing toxic waste into the local river run offs, leading to their mutations. The factory has also decimated much of the animal population in this area and this is why they resort to cannibalism.
This film helps paint them more as victims of circumstance who have adapted to survive, rather than the mysterious bloodthirsty hillbillies that the original mostly painted them to be. In a weird way, I found myself wishing them success at parts (although not all).
The stand out point for me was the musical score composed by Bear McCreary. It’s simple but extremely disturbing, combining highly-twined guitar chords being plucked, lots of bass, and a percussive score that elevates panic when it’s needed at times, and helps establish a false sense of peace at others.
In Conclusion: I had fun with this film. The writers managed to take a genuinely effective concept and expand the world it was introduced to us through. The kills are gory and satisfying in a way that I did not expect. It has its flaws, but most of the flaws (especially the ones concerning the character developments) can be overlooked as simple campy fun. It’s not a breakthrough film by any means, but it did not hurt the presence of the original, nor did it overstay it’s welcome, (for this sequel, at least.)
Did I enjoy it on my first visit? Yes
Would I go back for seconds? Yes, but I’m not in a hurry
Would I recommend it? If you enjoyed the original I would recommend it, however it is not a film that you need in your life.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra