Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (Blu-ray)
Directed by Joe Lynch
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 97 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, 3.0 Spanish
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish
MSRP: $ 29.99
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Review Date: September 19, 2009
It seems to be a bylaw of the movie business that if you make a horror movie and it’s even a little bit successful, a string of sequels will more or less follow (it’s not a new trend; Universal did it for decades). That’s certainly the thinking behind Joe Lynch’s Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. Four years after the original Wrong Turn hit theaters, here comes its follow-up, another revolting carnage carnival in the same stalker/slasher vein as its predecessor. Of course, to give the filmmakers some credit, they do try to surpass what went before: instead of three killers, we have a large family of murderous cretins on the loose and looking for fresh kills. We have a larger cast of characters for them to slay than the first film had. And even though we don’t have the auspices of Stan Winston as the make-up creator and producer as the first one had, that doesn’t stop the filmmakers from going for broke with their gore effects. Too bad they also couldn’t contain their enthusiasm for gross out scenes that attempt to push the envelope ever so firmly forward into the realm of the repugnant. There were a couple of times in this movie that I felt their complete lack of scruples worked against their film’s best interests. I wasn’t looking at the screen to see what all their blood, sweat, and tears was coming up with.
We are once again in the midst of the Greenbrier Back Country of West Virginia where a pilot for a new television reality show called Ultimate Survivalist is being taped. Hosted by retired marine Dale Murphy (Henry Rollins), the show puts its six contestants (Erica Leerhsen, Texas Battle, Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, Aleksa Palladino, Crystal Lowe) into teams and sends them into the forest wilderness. (American Idol finalist Kimberly Caldwell was originally scheduled to be one of the contestants, but she’s the film’s first victim in the teaser so she gets replaced quickly.) In the woods, of course, is living a large family of inbred cannibals who, having killed off all hunting game in the area, now feed on whatever humans they can trap.
It’s the same kind of Russian roulette slasher scenario we’ve seen a million times; most of the people connected in any way with the show will never see the show go to air, mainly because they’ll be serving as the meat in the family’s nightly stew. The surprises are supposed to lie with which characters manage to survive until the end since it’s not always whom one might expect. Of course, the deck is stacked against the victims because the killers are virtually indestructible; blowing them up with a nuclear weapon seems about the only way to stop them (who knew that the poisonous industry waste products that have contaminated the water they drink have also given them superhuman strength, stamina, and imperviousness?). Scripters Turi Meyer and Al Septien haven’t really brought anything new to the table, but director Joe Lynch brings all those body parts to the table (finger sandwiches and tongue take on an entirely new meaning) and allows us to watch the cannibals feed and even force some flesh down one of their as yet undead victim’s throats, too. We also get to see one of the teens masturbating and even a brother and sister having sex just for good measure. When we get to see a brutal birth of yet another new inborn, well, it warms the heart to know there will be sufficient monsters for the next film in the series (scheduled to be released in the coming month).
You have to hand it to the actors for being good sports about the abuse most of them have to face getting hacked to pieces, and all of the principal cast members do decent jobs with their roles. Henry Rollins has the most physical role in the film and is the most praiseworthy in his absolute devotion to playing his part with such conviction. He and Aleksa Palladino’s Mara are by far the most ingratiating of the main characters, so their fates come as something of a surprise and a disappointment. Steve Braun’s overly jokey Jonesy may provide for much of the movie’s comedy relief, but he wears out his welcome relatively early. Wayne Robson reprises his role of the old man from the first film with a secret of his own to share and makes his sequence unusually creepy.
The film is framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. The image quality is a mass of contradictions: the color begins as relatively lush but soon becomes washed out and dated looking. Flesh tones vary throughout the film but usually seem a bit pale. Black levels are fine, and shadow detail is acceptable, but sharpness is usually just average, sometimes not appearing to be any better than an upconverted DVD. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, like its predecessor, is very loud, and while the surrounds don’t have quite as much ambient activity as the first film had, they are used well sporadically. The music does get spread through the soundstage more than adequately and adds heft to the film’s creepiest scenes. The LFE channel also gets occasional use which is welcome.
The disc offers two audio commentaries. The first features director Joe Lynch and actors Henry Rollins and Erica Leerhsen in a chatty commentary in which the men in particular spout effusively their affection for the material and their admiration for all who surrounded them. The second commentary, a bit more grounded but also less conversational, features writers Al Septien and Turi Meyer.
All of the featurettes are presented in 480i.
“More Blood, More Guts: The Making of Wrong Turn 2”is the EPK featurette for the movie featuring the producer, the director, the production designer, and several principal actors all praising the film. The feature lasts 9 ½ minutes.
“On Location with P-Nut” finds the videographer shooting a montage of behind-the-scenes moments while the film was in production. This brief featurette runs 2 ¼ minutes.
“Making Gore Look Good” is a discussion of the film’s makeup and special effects with the supervisors of those two departments along with the stunt coordinator and select actors detailing three of the film’s signature murders. This featurette runs 11 ½ minutes.
2/5 (not an average)
Filled with ghouls and gore, Wrong Turn 2 will give fans of the original film exactly what they’re looking for: more of the same kinds of suspense and scares the first film offered them. The Blu-ray release in its high definition debut is no world beater in terms of video or audio, but fans who are looking for an upgrade on their DVD copy may find it an acceptable jump.