OCTOBER 19, 2009
Over two years later, Joe Lynch’s Wrong Turn 2 remains a high point in the increasing land of DTV horror sequels. It wasn’t perfect, but it was made with passion, relished in its “We don’t have to play in 3000 screens” fate, and was simply a damn fun time, with great kills and a fun cast. It also had its own identity apart from the more serious original film, so I was sort of intrigued by another creative team taking the reins for a 3rd film, hoping a filmmaker with his own style could deliver yet another new direction for the series. Sadly, Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead is about as abysmal as you can get for a sequel; if WT2 raised the bar, then WT3 lowers it right back down to where it was, and possibly a notch or two lower.
Absolutely nothing about this film works. Some of the ideas for kills are great, but they are all executed with the shittiest CGI this side of Van Helsing. And too many of the other kills are merely copies of the other films’; once again a character is “shockingly” dispatched by an arrow through the head. And the over-the-top nature of the kills doesn’t match the otherwise more serious tone of the film. In WT2, the characters were fun, largely good people. Here, we get a busload of prisoners, a generic cop, and Hills Run Red’s Janet Montgomery, who I thought was the best of the actors in that film but is absolutely atrocious here as the lone survivor of a group of kayakers who get dispatched in the film’s opener (which is about as good as the film gets).
And screenwriter Connor James Delaney should be ashamed of himself for the wholly logic-free bullshit this movie calls a plot. After a bus full of convicts and cops is rammed off the road by Three Finger, the cons somehow seize control and force the surviving cops to lead them to safety. But they stumble across an armored truck that also went off the road 50 years ago. Apparently, the bank/police never bothered to retrieve their fortunes (and the WT2 reality show team never stumbled across it either while outfitting the entire area with cameras?), so the cons and cops each carry two bags of loot. Of course, whenever someone dies their bags are handed to someone else, and by the end we have guys carrying 10 bags a piece, despite the fact that simply carrying two bags was an issue for some of the folks earlier in the film. We also have to believe that the police force would never even come close to rescuing anyone, even with another cop knowing that they took “Old Mill Road” as a shortcut. And that five prisoners (including a high ranking mobster) would be transferred in the middle of the night with an inexperienced cop in charge. And so on and so on. It’s not like any movie of this type is really steeped in logic, but Delaney isn’t even trying here. His dialogue isn’t any better; the biggest laugh in the film is when Montgomery is telling her story to the cops and says, with full conviction: “We were rafting... we were having so much fun.”
He also inexplicably decides to A. keep the mutants that died in the last film dead (a first) and B. not introduce any new ones. Besides Three Finger, only Three Toe (aka Baby Splooge) appears, and he is brutally murdered by one of the cons almost instantly. Given how abhorrent the convicts are, I’m actually pulling for the mutants this time around, so to kill off what is essentially a hungry kid in such vicious manner is just awful. Worse, this leaves only Three Finger, who has seemingly gained teleportation skills, and is even more indestructible than ever; I think he “comes back to life” about five times in this movie.
AND THE ENDING!!! I have never seen such an insultingly stupid and pointless epilogue in a movie. It’s some time later, and our hero (a cop) has decided to go back and get some of the money from the armored truck (which the bank STILL hasn’t gone back to retrieve). As he grabs a bag, he is suddenly killed from behind by... the requisite “innocent” prisoner who had plenty of opportunities to kill him before but always helped him out (since he’s a nice guy and all). So even though it’s a few weeks later or whatever, they both decided to go back to the truck on the same day? And the convict has just been waiting around the area instead of escaping (which the cop guy let him do, shades of The Rock here)? And then he is killed in turn by Three Finger, who has survived getting his brain impaled. Fuck you, movie.
Plus it just feels horribly cheap. Everything from the sets (the “police task force” room is hilariously low-grade) to the opening titles to the acting (not a single recognizable face in the film save Montgomery; even Three Finger is played by a new guy) is as low-rent as you can get, and the horrid CGI and such doesn’t help. And the green-screens! Good Christ; at one point we see three shots from behind the driver (facing the road) in a scene of the bus driving, and it’s the same fucking patch of road every time, and poorly matched to boot (it also doesn’t match the speed of the road going by in the other shots). You would think after the better than average reception of WT2, that FOX would put a little effort into this one seeing as it’s going to have a little more interest than the usual DTV sequel, but it’s the opposite; the production value of your average Full Moon sequel seems higher.
Most tellingly - this was a free screening and it was only half full (if that), and even emptier by the time the film concluded (I half expected the projectionist to take out the DVD, break it in half for all of our sakes, and then put in something worth watching). I’ve been to a number of free screenings over the past 4 years of living in LA, and let me tell you, I have NEVER seen as much as an empty seat, let alone an empty row. Hell, there were more people in the audience for the film prior to this one (Damned By Dawn), and that was a foreign film without distribution that cost ten bucks to see. None of the actors showed up, only director Declan O’Brien, the auteur behind such Sci-Fi original movie gems as Rock Monster. Christ, they offered free drinks after the movie and I didn’t even want to bother with that; I chose to go home and edit.
The saddest thing about it is that at its core is an interesting movie. Cops teaming up with criminals and regular folks against a common enemy - sound like Assault on Precinct 13 a bit? Hell, they even make an Assault-like pit stop at a ranger station prior to the crash; it would have been great to confine the film there and do something interesting (arrest the baby and have Three Finger and (hopefully) some others come down to reclaim him). Instead we get the umpteenth journey through the woods, without any of the class of the original or splatter-y fun of the sequel. O’Brien and Delaney have indeed put their own stamp on the series - they made the one that completely fucking sucks.
What say you?