Monday, May 6, 2013

How is Wrong Turn 2 so good?

I didn't care much for the first film. I was excited to see it because of Stan Winston's involvement (producer and FX studio), but I ended up very disappointed. Didn't care for the characters or story, the cannibals weren't scary or well designed, etc. It was easily forgettable so when it came to the sequel, I had no interest. Then I saw a clip online of the opening scene, and I was impressed. After I watched the whole film, I couldn't believe it. Not only did I like it, I loved it. The premise sounds so stupid. Like Halloween: Resurrection, it's about a reality show, but unlike that awful exercise in pain, Wrong Turn 2 is smart, well-directed, and unpredictable. Right near the beginning, you get one of the leads wearing a Battle Royale shirt. That's your first sign (aside from the excellent opening), that you're in good hands.

Spoilers. Usually, in a film like this, Mara is your final girl. She is set up as your typical lead: sympathetic and innocent (cheated on by her boyfriend), shy at first but with an inner strength, etc. So when she gets brutally fuckin killed by ax to the head 39 min in, it's quite a shock. The filmmakers knew what they were doing. They even have the cannibals tie Mara's body to the hood of their truck to rub it in. Next up, Dale Murphy played perfectly by Henry Hollins. Again, this movie toys with your expectations. An awesome character like Dale would usually be butchered early on, leaving with you a bunch of dimwit annoying teenagers you couldn't care less about. Just when you think that is about to happen here, Dale escapes and blows away a cannibal with a shotgun. It's a badass scene and one the audience can cheer at. Plus, only a few minutes in, you get Dale berating an idiot about not stereotyping all the people who grew up in that area since Dale was raised two counties from there. Obviously, the filmmakers know how dumb a film like this can be (they even mock how all reality shows are the same), but they use that to their advantage, making something incredibly fun and exciting out of it. Even the opening that has your typical moron not paying attention and hitting someone with their car is done exceptionally well. The actual part where she looks down at her phone and then hits the pedestrian is all one continuous shot so it's a lot more effective than if they just had a ton of cuts. Then you don't know the guy she hit is a cannibal, and they don't reveal that until he attacks her. Joe Lynch really did a phenomenal job directing this. I love how they tie in the paper mill, showing something like this isn't entirely impossible, and you actually meet the cannibal family's normal-looking father. And the black guy actually lives! End spoilers.

They really made an outstanding horror movie with great characters, intelligent writing, a lot of fantastic practical gore FX (only one shot of CGI I remember), and you even get some nudity. It's a million times better than the original, and I'm sure it blows away the fifty other sequels that have followed (stop already... seriously). Even if you hate the first Wrong Turn, you should really see this.

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