There are times when a sequel is basically just a redo of the original film. Direct-to-video sequels that are released four years after the original are even more likely to be unoriginal. As a result, it brings me great pleasure to announce that Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is both an improvement over the first Wrong Turn, but also changes enough things up to make it seem different. This is how we should have started the franchise. It is a decent horror movie.
The first thing Wrong Turn 2 does right is its obligatory opening kill scene. It involves Kimberly (Kimberly Caldwell, playing herself), driving to reach the set of a reality TV show that is set up as a post-apocalyptic Survivor. She’s a contestant, but she’s not going to make it there. The mutated cannibals from the first film set a trap, and she falls right into it. The kill is gruesome, bloody, and most importantly relevant to the plot. Also, if you hated Kimberly when she was on American Idol, well, you get to see her die. So there’s that.
The second thing Wrong Turn 2 does right is in giving us a whole host of characters, none of whom are the de facto “lead” — also known as the one or two who are going to survive to the end. There are six contestants on the show, and they’re all played by actors you won’t recognize. There’s Nina (Erica Leerhsen), Jake (Texas Battle), Amber (Daniella Alonso), Jonesy (Steve Braun), Elena (Crystal Lowe), and Mara (Aleksa Palladino), the last of whom is the show’s producer, but winds up joining the fray after Kimberly doesn’t show up.
They’re doing this reality TV show in the woods — the same woods in which the first film took place. Apparently our survivors from Wrong Turn decided it wasn’t worth it to tell people about the dozens of people that were murdered, or maybe they weren’t believed. Who knows? Regardless, this TV show is set here, but it’s not going to go off without a hitch. In fact, people are going to die. The cannibals are at large and they’ve got a new food source to hunt.
And … it’s basically a fight for survival from here. The main cast needs to run away and sometimes fight against the cannibals, who are relentless in their pursuit of fresh meat. Just like the first film, there isn’t a lot that’s scary when it comes to Wrong Turn 2. It might make you jump a couple of times, but it’s more often than not going to fill you with … not indifference, but certainly not fear. But, hey, you don’t want to see any of the characters die, and the level of suspense is at least at a consistently moderate level. That’s an improvement.
It also feels much more like an R-rated movie. There was a bit of gore in Wrong Turn, and I guess there was some foul language, too, but Wrong Turn 2 ramps up both to a pretty decent degree. It even has a bit of nudity, so if you watch horror movies for that, well, you’ll be pleased. With direct-to-video movies, there’s less financial pressure, so you can go in different directions and push boundaries. Wrong Turn 2 doesn’t really push those, but in comparison to its predecessor, it most certainly does.
I liked how it sort of made fun of reality TV, too. I mean, that’s a pretty low target to make fun of, but it provided some laughs for me. I enjoyed how I didn’t really recognize any of these actors, and therefore didn’t know who would live the longest. A death comes as a surprise, as a result, and that’s a rarity. The characters are all easy to distinguish between each other, too, all having a couple of defining character traits.
Wrong Turn 2 isn’t going to blow many people away, but for those who saw the first film and are looking for something better, you get that here. It’s a surprise, especially given the four years and direct-to-video status of the sequel, but it’s a pleasant surprise. Wrong Turn 2 does enough right to make me think that it’s worth seeing. You don’t even need to see the first film to make sense of it. In fact, that might be the way to go about things. Skip the original and move right on to the sequel. You’ll have more fun.