Saturday, July 19, 2014

Joy Ride 3: Roadkill (2014) review


JOY RIDE 3: ROADKILL 2014 (onscreen title is simply JOY RIDE 3)

Ken Kirzinger (Rusty Nail), Jesse Hutch (Jordan), Ben Hollingsworth (Mickey), Gianpaolo Venuta (Austin), Jake Manley (Bobby), Kirsten Prout (Jewel), Leela Savasta (Alisa), Sarah Mitich (Candy), David Ferry (Barry the trucker)

Directed by Declan O'Brien

The Short Version: Mad trucker Rusty Nail returns in this corroded sequel to mete out SAW-style punishment to an unsavory, utterly stupid, and selfish cast of non-characters for 95 onerous minutes. Arguably the directors "best" movie, his creativity and enthusiasm in the gore department doesn't go unnoticed. In the end, this third Joy Ride is essentially a DIY Jigsaw in a big rig, and virtually interchangeable with the glut of like-minded greasy spoons found on the celluloid horror highway.

Seven obnoxious street racers on their way to a racing rally decide to take a shortcut through the aptly named Slaughter Alley where they encounter psychotic truck driver, Rusty Nail. After nearly running the trucker off the road in a moment of immature foolishness, Rusty Nail sets his sights on torturing and murdering the young racers.

Killer Trucker movies are a mostly underwhelming bunch. Steven Spielberg's masterful DUEL (1971) is the classic example of the form, and virtually every similar movie to follow in its tire tracks have sacrificed a building sense of dread for gorier tactics (excluding Richard Franklin's unique ROAD GAMES from 1981). MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE (1986) wallowed in brainless stupidity of a sort rarely matched; MONSTER MAN (2003) was actually pretty enjoyable and humorous on an extremely neolithic level; then there's ROADKILL (2010), a torturous 18 wheeler version of DEATH SHIP (1980).

Now, The master(?) of SyFy Channel excrement (SHARKTOPUS, CYCLOPS) and atrocious WRONG TURN sequels (parts 3,4, and 5 thus far) takes a joy ride with this second sequel to the 2001 horror-thriller favorite. It's the typical modern style horror movie where the writer (director O'Brien again) opts to throw a menagerie of soulless, self-centered individuals at the audience as opposed to crafting even moderately interesting characters with which to put in peril; something the first movie was successful at. So what you're left with is a string of bloody set pieces with some added vehicular stunts as your entertainment for 95 minutes. This vapidness will suffice for some and even less so for others.

The film does have a brief moment of inspired, geek film culture humor in a diner scene with a waitress modeled after the Large Marge character from PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE (1985). Another occupant, Barry the trucker, is clearly off his rocker, yet totally has it right about the literal dead end in store for the cast. If you remember Crazy Ralph from the first couple of FRIDAY THE 13th movies, Barry embodies him; although he never lets those famous words, "You're all dooooomed", roll off his tongue.

Rusty Nail has seriously lost his edge from the first movie. The character was genuinely terrifying there, but here, he's little more than a DIY Jigsaw driving a big rig with a redneck Freddy Krueger comedy routine. No attempt to shroud the character in mystery is made. Granted, this is the third film -- we all know who he is -- but the filmmakers don't even try. We even see Rusty in clear view a number of times, leaving us with the impression he's little more than a highly sophisticated, demented hick. Ken Kirzinger (Jason in FREDDY VS. JASON [2003]), at the mercy of the director, has zero menace as the now RustED Nail. You'd think Ken was still playing Jason Voorhees, but without a mask and talking a lot. He's everywhere at all times, and somehow manages to be the only guy on the highway aside from his intended victim(s) whether it's day or night.

The protagonists are barely that; cardboard cut-outs of archetypal slasher fodder. Out of the whole bunch, there's one individual who almost rises above the off-putting banality of the rest, but O'Brien's script is more interested in quirky secondary characters and devising gruesomely glorious methods of dispatch. If you get a kick out of seeing shallow personages getting crushed, broken, and ripped asunder by a lower tier slasher paragon, this truck stop has good diner food; ditto if you found any of the directors previous sequels and SyFy non-events entertaining.

Overall, this is Declan O'Brien's most tolerable movie thus far, with this reviewer having more or less despised them all up to this point. There are a couple of nice touches, some nicely edited stunts, and one spectacularly squishy gore sequence that punctuates the only surprise the film has to offer. These few nuances give the film some mileage, even if it's running on fumes most of the time. Compared with the first JOY RIDE (2001), this third load is mediocre by comparison; but by itself, it does have some recommended qualities that may keep you from falling asleep at the wheel.

This review is representative of the 20th Century Fox DVD.
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