Review: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

(20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release Wrong Turn 2: Dead End on DVD October 9th.)

Many direct-to-DVD horror films are regurgitated pablum, only meant to line the coffers of the studio with even more greenbacks; competent direction, a focused storyline, and decent acting are usually not that important in the scheme of things. But sometimes you’re pleasantly surprised and want to scream from the rooftops your enthusiasm for a title. And Wrong Turn 2: Dead End presents that opportunity.

The first film, released in theaters in May of 2003 (unceremoniously dumped is more like it), was a brutally intense horror film that did not deserve the fate it suffered. While Wrong Turn was a terrific horror film, the sequel ratchets up the gore and the intensity, while not sacrificing character development or sprinkling in stupid writing. The result, I’m beyond pleased to announce, is one of the best horror films in recent memory.

A reality show pilot, entitled The Ultimate Survivalist: The Apocalypse, begins filming in the rural woods of West Virginia with six contestants. The series will simulate survival in a post-apocalyptic world and the winner of the series will walk away with $100,000. Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins), a former Marine, hosts and produces the series. Soon the show is the last thing on the minds of the contestants, as hideously deformed inbred mutant cannibals begin offing them one by one in horrific ways.

I don’t want to reveal too much about the characters because the film presents several horror movie character sterotypes but then totally turns the tables on the viewer. If you think you know who’ll survive, think again. Henry Rollins must be singled out, though, for his take-charge presence as Dale Murphy. Anyone who’s seen his IFC series knows how well-spoken, articulate, and calm Rollins is; as Dale Murphy he seems to be tapping into a little bit of his stage presence and the character gives as good as he gets. Rollins tears into this role with maniacal glee and the result is a character that is an immense pleasure to watch.

In the sea of direct-to-DVD offal that pollutes the market these days, it’s welcome and refreshing to watch a film that stands (severed) heads and shoulders above the rest. While I’d have preferred to see this get a theatrical release, its DVD release ensures every bloody moment is intact. For those who decry that horror is being watered-down for the teeny-bopper brigade and that the genre is being transformed into PG-13 pablum with paper-thin writing, here’s a film that washes that theory right down the drain. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End gives the horror fan exactly what they’ve been clamoring for, and then some. I can’t wait to see director Joe Lynch’s next film.

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