Wednesday 13 February 2008

Wrong Turn 2

Wrong Turn is a great movie. Its themes of survival, isolation, and trust give rich subtext to a story about running away from inbred cannibal hillbillies. Wrong Turn 2 also weaves similar themes throughout its narrative, albeit in a much less successful way. Where the original passed on gore in favour of suspense, the sequel revels in the former at the expense of delivering a well paced and well written story. Though it is kind of funny.

Henry Rollins plays a retired army commander who now hosts a survivor-type TV show called The Apocalypse. Set in the woods, the contestants must work together in order to gather food, build a shelter, and so on. But there are also challenges they must face alone that are meant to test and build character. Unfortunately for the show's cast and crew, the shooting location is overrun with mutant inbreds. Carnage ensues while cast members are routinely gutted and eaten. Thus Wrong Turn 2's inane premise presents the audience with a kind of meta-survivor film in which fiction and reality collide in one huge postmodern mess.

The use of a survival show as a framing device allows the filmmakers to mine the pit of horror movie stereotypes while at the same time providing easy excuses for moments of character development. For instance, Lisa must find the courage to ford a river in order to collect a tag that will keep her in the game. In so doing, she learns something new about herself and her abilities AND she earns the respect of her teammate who is her exact opposite and thus a source of conflict. Furthermore, the voyeuristic implicatons of a behind-the-scenes story pushes WT2 into the realm of torture porn, though the film has none of the elements of required of the sub-genre.

What's more is that the film attempts to tie into the original Wrong Turn through the character of the toothless old-timer who mans the gas station in the first movie. In Wrong Turn, the old man is simply a geezer who lives in a compartmentalized reality in which he neither helps nor hinders the inbreds' continued survival. In WT2, he is, somewhat confusingly, the patriarch of an extensive family. Add to this the last minute revelation that the mutants are in fact not the sole product of inbreeding but also owe their physical (and arguably mental) deformations to toxic waste, you have a sequal that is trying to follow and build on characters and situations introduced in the first film, and completely failing to do so. In spite of this, WT2 cannot be considered a sequal in name only, but neither is it a true sequal.

I cannot think of a reason for anyone to watch this film. Ill conceived and poorly constructed, Wrong Turn 2 is an excersize in futility--no matter how much you want it to be something esle, it is excatly what it appears to be: a low-rent entry in a low-rent genre.

Now that's postmodernism.

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