The episode of Revisited covering Wrong Turn 2: Dead End was Written by Emilie Black, Edited by Juan Jimenez, Narrated by Niki Minter, Produced by Tyler Nichols and John Fallon, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

A long, long time ago, in a state deep in the woods, a bunch of people were eaten by cannibal hillbillies in a film called Wrong Turn. Soon, the locals to where the film was taking place got very angry about the depiction of their fellow mountain and wood residents, which they thought gave them a bad name. Horror fans responded by seeing the film anyways, making it a minor hit. The first film had a budget of $12.6 million and made $28.7 million at the box office. While this may lead to a sequel at times, it was not a given. Fast forward to 4 years later and we are gifted with the first of a long series of sequels. Wrong Turn 2 (watch it HERE) can be held responsible for the further 4 sequels and remakes. Why? Well, because it is way better than it has any right to be.

As a fan of the first film, the sequel was a no-brainer. Having seen some footage and a few trailers at conventions and around the web, it looked promising, so off to Best Buy to pick up the film on DVD, sight unseen, because the powers that be didn’t want to give the sequel a theatrical release, unfortunately. At the time, it was a hit for this horror fan, but what about now? Well, the film has a few things that could be updated, but overall, it’s a solid entry in the genre, one easily rated a good 8 out 10. Let’s see how that comes together in terms of why, because, let’s be honest, you either are on board or have not seen the film yet. So, let’s put into words why one should check out Wrong Turn 2: Dead End these many years later.

Let’s start with the story. The film takes on the cannibal inbred hillbillies and gives them a whole new bunch of reality star hopefuls, a production crew, and Henry Rollins. Yep, Henry Rollings. Now, there is no way a random direct-to-video sequel with that setup could be any good, right? Right? Well, no. The film here was written by Turi Meyer and Alfredo Septién, based on characters by Alan B. McElroy, and directed by Joe Lynch. Here’s the thing: anyone who’s been around conventions or has listened to interviews about the film knows this: Joe Lynch did what he is now well-known to do with his films and adjusted a few things in the script, made it his, and shot it in a way only he could. If you are familiar with other films, it’s clear the man always has a vision when he directs, no matter what the film or project. He’s the kind of man who loves his horror and loves it when it’s fun, bloody, and witty without becoming annoying. He has a way with movies that can be easily seen in his other films, Mayhem, Point Blank, Everly, and more recently Suitable Flesh. His films have an energy that is clearly him, something that is easier to understand once one has met the man, which I’ve been lucky enough to do many times over the years as he roamed all kinds of conventions, industry events, and film festivals. There are not many men who would walk into a film festival like Fantasia and decide to make the whole crowd meow the 20th Century Fox theme. Yes, meow. It made sense, given the fest; it set the tone for his premiere, and it made every single person in that audience love him even more. This is just one of many stories of who Joe Lynch is and how he connects with audiences in person or through films. His work on Wrong Turn 2 helped the film immensely and helped make it what it is now. It can also be said that his work on this film is why we now have 4 more sequels and a remake. Had Wrong Turn 2 sucked horribly, it would not have led to much more for this franchise. His work here is solid, and it must be noted, that this was his first feature film as a director, his other works being in music videos and other fields related to entertainment.

Wrong Turn 2 Revisited

The cast here brings a lot to the film with performances that still work, some of them of course, better than others, but overall, the cast here is solid. The main name most will notice right away is Henry Rollins. If you do not know who Rollins is, pause this, go search for him online, check out his work, come back here after. Don’t forget to come though! Real quick, Henry Rollins is a respected artist and human, he’s been an actor, an author, a singer, a podcast host, a DJ, a television host, a voice-over artist, and a bunch more. In terms of films, before Wrong Turn 2, he’s been in Kiss Napoleon Goodbye, The Chase, Johnny Mnemonic, Heat, Lost Highway, The New Guy, Bad Boys II, just to name a few. Since Wrong Turn 2, he’s been in more films and television, including Sons of Anarchy, He Never Died, and Z Nation. He has a very specific screen presence and Wrong Turn 2 makes really good use of it. As the opening star, the opening kill, Kimberly Caldwell plays herself, a reality star who finished 7th on her first show and intends on winning this one. Of course, she’s the first face on the screen in this movie, so saying she’s the first kill isn’t exactly a spoiler. Her work here is pretty much as expected, she plays herself with a bit of an extra attitude, just long enough to get split in half. By the way, that split in half Kimberly was a magnet that they gave out at conventions to promote the film, I still have one on my fridge, it’s a two-piece magnet that splits down the middle and you can put Kimberly on your fridge in two spots at once. It’s not safe for work and still one of the best pieces of film swag I’ve gotten in my life (side note, the top best was the Hatchet knife sharpener). The rest of the cast is a mix of folks horror fans are familiar with like Erica Leerhsen, Matthew Currie Holmes, Yan-Kay Crystal Lowe, and Texas Battle with other familiar faces from random television shows and films, including Daniella Alonso, Steve Braun, and Aleksa Palladino. The cast does well, plays by the rules of their respective characters, and well, it’s easy to guess who will survive in the end. Or is it? One is pretty obvious from the start and the other twists a tired cliché on its head. And this is all part of why the film works.

Another big part of the film is the cannibal inbred hillbilly family. These folks are special here, bringing back one or two from the first film and going from there. The cast for this family is solid as well, with actors horror fans are used to seeing play killers such as Ken Kirzinger (you know, Jason in Freddy Vs Jason), Jeff Scrutton who has made a career of playing parts where we don’t really see him. Joining them are actor-stunt people who do quite well under all the practical effects they are saddled with. The family is well put together and just so off-putting it’s perfectly right for the film.

This leads us to the special effects. This film uses a bunch of practical effects over CGI, and it helps it age better, something many movies should learn from. The two main companies credited here are Optic Nerve Studios and WCT Productions MCT. Optic Nerve is the company most will have heard of, but here what matters is how these two companies did. How does the gore look on screen? Are the scenes with cannibalism realistic? Does the blood look good? The answer to these questions is yes on all accounts. The film uses blood deliberately and in copious amounts, the cannibal inbred hillbillies look gross, and that baby at the end? Yeah, totally a puppet, yes it could have looked a bit more realistic, but it works here so, whatever, it’s what the film needed.

Add onto this the cinematography by Robin Loewen and the music by Bear McCreary and you get an effective horror romp through the woods. The film looks great and allows you to see everything that is going on. No ultra shaky cam, no darkness to hide the lower budget. This film looks like every single penny of the budget is visible on the screen and then some. The way every single department came together to create a sequel bigger than the first film in the series is something that requires to be seen.

Wrong Turn 2 Revisited

Which brings us back to the story as there is something here, something more than an opportunistic sequel made to pull every last dollar from fans of the first film. The film has the heart of a horror fan, so it grabbed horror fans by the heart. Before eating it of course. Here’s the thing about the story here. Back in the early 2000’s, there was a writers’ strike in Hollywood, in 2007 to be precise. This strike was looming and what this strike brought to the front more and more reality television. Before the strike, a lot of what was considered reality television was shows like American Idol and The Amazing Race, shows where people competed, and still do, for prize and fame depending on which show you preferred. There was something about it all, something different than most of the reality tv shows that came after the 2007-2008 strike which was more about voyeurism and fame for the sake of fame. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End hit right at the correct moment in that people were getting to a place where reality television was more and more accepted, and it had not yet oversaturated the airwaves yet. The fact that video stores were still a thing and people bought movies on physical media a whole lot more than now also helped make this sequel make sense. This film showed up at the exact right moment, but it was not the only one of its kind, what this one had above the others in the same sub-genre was the talent behind and in front of the camera, the people who made this film. There was something magic in how the gore came together with the cast of familiar faces, how the film managed to get Henry Rollins as not-the-lead, but the leader for the bunch. His character was clearly a mix of actual people on reality television with a side of army drill sergeant. The characters set up to die here, because that is what they are, they are sheep to the slaughter, sent in the woods where the cannibals live and kill. There is something not quite right from the very start and the film makes the most of it. The characters are a bit predictable because of course, but also, it’s not an issue, they get to be actually more human than expected in some cases, they have interactions that aren’t expected, and they are given something more than just a number in the order to die in. There’s more here than in most films of this type usually have and having seen Joe Lynch’s other films since, that something extra does seem to be the Joe Lynch Touch, something that seems to be somewhere between well-educated filmmaker and absolute film fanboy. This shows and it helps the viewers connect with the film and love the ever-loving blood out of it.

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End was a sequel that was very much marketed to horror fans through magazines like Fangoria, at conventions, and by way of websites like Arrow in the Head and Dread Central. A big part of this film’s success, besides the obvious talent of those involved, was how it became a thing online long before everyone and their mother was on social media. It didn’t have a viral campaign, it didn’t that a reel posted by influencers, it would not have made sense to have it marketed by influencers even if they were around at the time. This film got horror fans talking the second they saw a scene from it, the second a trailer hit their eyeballs. This is a film that some of us remember wanting to see just based on chatter at conventions and on message boards. Yeah, we old, but check out our horror, it’s gory, it’s gooey, it’s bloody, and it’s plenty violent. Direct-to-video may have seemed like a death sentence to some, but it was a hit for this film. As a horror fan, it was one of those films that was worth picking up as a blind buy and putting on with a bunch of friends. This is a film to watch in a group, in a cabin in the woods if you can. This is one of my favorites from 2007 as discussed and it’s one that is still on the regular rotation at this house.

Two previous episodes of Revisited can be seen below. To see more of our shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals channel – and subscribe while you’re at it!

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