Early in the summer of 2003, rural slasher Wrong Turn became a modest box office hit. Like most horror movies from the late 90s and early 2000s, it boasted a young, attractive cast of up-and-comers. And it carried on a long-tradition of hillbilly horror dating back to the 1972 classic Deliverance. Critics didn’t really like it, but audiences didn’t care either. Instead of a box office sequel, however, Wrong Turn became a B-movie straight-to-video franchise, which currently five sequels of decreasing quality. Amidst the COVID pandemic, a surprisingly good remake saw a brief theatrical release. Yet the first sequel of the bunch, Wrong Turn 2 Dead End, was actually kind of good, too.
Several reality show contestants join a retired Marine Colonel in the West Virginia woods to film a pilot episode of The Apocalypse: Ultimate Survivalist. But they’re not alone in the wilderness. Years ago a nearby paper mill poisoned the local water source driving away most residents except for one family. Years of inbreeding and toxic contaminants have left them deformed and turned them into feral cannibals. Now the hillbilly predators have found their next prey.
Wrong Turn 2 Dead End Delivers Exactly What You Want from the Premise
On one hand, Wrong Turn 2 Dead End is exactly what you would expect. Director Joe Lynch (Mayhem) and writer Turi Meyer and Al Septien have made rural slasher movie about deformed clan of cannibalistic hillbillies. The sequel doesn’t pretend to be anything else. And since it’s a sequel, Lynch et al. don’t need to spend much time setting up their premise. Anyone who rented Wrong Turn 2 Dead End in the Blockbuster days wanted plenty of slasher gore and sex. As expected, Lynch serves up plenty of blood and entrails alongside a bit of ‘T & A’ and wastes little time getting to the point. Expect little in the way of suspense, scares, or surprises.
The sequel doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
Nonetheless, Lynch knows exactly what kind of movie he’s making and never takes it too seriously. As a result, Wrong Turn 2 Dead End is just over 90 minutes of silly, over-the-top guts and gore that often has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek. From its opening pre-credits sequence, Lynch goes all in on the CGI splatter and we get real-life C-list reality start Kimberly Caldwell split in half. Some horror fans will take issue with the CGI. Moreover, the make-up effects look like a bit of a downgrade from the original. Yet somehow this fees like a tighter, bloodier, and more fun take on the premise than what the 2003 movie delivered.
Wrong Turn 2 Dead End Pits Henry Rollins vs Deformed Hillbillies
Just how much does Wrong Turn 2 Dead End miss the original’s star, Eliza Dushku? While genre fans would have appreciated a sequel that brought back Dushku’s ‘Jessie’, Lynch’s use of reality star Kimberly Caldwell in the pre-credits scene quickly sweeps away any concerns. Hardcore-punk-rocker-turned-actor Henry Rollins may be the sequel’s most recognizable face, but Meyer and Septien’s screenplay actually delivers much better characters here. Whether it’s the sequel’s fake-out on the ‘Final Girl’ or the ways in which even two-dimensional characters become sympathetic elevate this effort above most straight-to-video fare. Even the cast, which includes a few familiar horror veterans – Erica Leerhsen (Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Crystal Lowe (Black Christmas) – is better than what you’d tpically find in this sort of sequel.
Whether it’s the sequel’s fake-out on the ‘Final Girl’ or the ways in which even two-dimensional characters become sympathetic elevate this effort above most straight-to-video fare.
But most horror fans who rented Wrong Turn 2: Dead End came out for the cannibalistic, deformed hillbillies. Before shared universes, continuity wasn’t a high priority, particularly for horror sequels. Though the popular Three-Finger returns, his siblings are inexplicably absent. In their place, the sequel gives us family of rural monsters, adding incest to their list of crimes. Veteran character actor Wayne Robson (Cube) even reprises his bit role as the gas station attendant. Here, Robson’s retconned into the sequel as the patriarch of the cannibals, which doesn’t make much sense. But it does a small, fun surprise.
Wrong Turn 2 Dead End Improves on the 2003 Original in Just About Every Way
If you had to make a sequel to a derivative, but enjoyable, backwoods slasher, you could do a lot worse than Wrong Turn 2 Dead End. In fact, Joe Lynch’s sequel may actually be a slight improvement over the fan favourite 2003 slasher. With its over-the-top gore, nudity, and sex, the sequel more openly embraces the silliness of its premise. Though there’s only cursory attempts at continuity, that’s par for the course for horror movies, especially in 2007. And the characters somehow actually feel more than just two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. For fans of straightforward, gory slashers, Wrong Turn 2 Dead is a lot of fun – and it may be better than the original.