July 8, 2014

Blu-ray Review: Joy Ride 3 - Roadkill

Way back in 2001 there was a little movie called Joy Ride. It was a decent low grade thriller with a few actors who we would become more familiar with over the years in Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, and Leelee Sobieski. More than that it was co-written by JJ Abrams. It was effective, entertaining, perhaps nothing particularly special, but it is certainly worth watching. Things become a little dicier when you start to consider sequels. Frankly, I had no idea that there was a sequel to this until I got my hands on this third entry to review. It turns out that a sequel was released straight to video back in 2008. I have never seen it, but judging on the third entry, I am not sure it is actually necessary.

Joy Ride 3: Roadkill gets its start inside a seedy hotel room. A girl is smoking crack and freaks out that the guy she is with is out. He has a CB radio and concocts a plan to lure a trucker in and steal his stash, or at least his cash. It turns out the guy they lure in is good ole Rusty Nail (Ken Kirzinger, Freddy vs. Jason). He doesn't take kindly to being tricked and decides to play a game of his own. After a gory finish, we get the title and the movie begins.

The movie then picks up with our actual protagonists. They are a young rally car race team, friends, girlfriends, mechanics, you know the group. They are heading to some big race in Canada and in an effort to cut some time off their trip decide to take a shortcut on a highway not marked on their GPS. Of course, they get the requisite crazy guy warning them from going that route. It is the usual Crazy Ralph routine (Friday the 13th reference), warning of death awaiting them. They, of course, go anyway.

Rusty Nail patrols this highway, always around to cause a little trouble. Well, the race car kids happen to cross paths with Rusty Nail on the highway, and things do not go well. We get a cat and mouse game between Rusty and the kids. The friends squabble about what to do, they get split up, people die. Blah, blah, blah. Seen it all before.

The more I watched, the more I wondered what I was supposed to care about. The protagonists that we are supposed to identify with, or at least like, are all rather bland and unlikable. Perhaps we are supposed to be rooting for Rusty Nail? I don't know, I think the series doesn't have the strength behind it to try that switch (like what happened later in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series). More than likely, this was just a rush job done on the cheap to get onto store shelves.

There is no real hook here. At times it felt like they were trying to inject a little bit of the Saw series into Joy Ride. It has been a long time since I have watched the original, and while I liked it, I do not remember him being such the gamesmaker. Sure, some of the gore bits were good, but we all know that it takes more than that to make a good movie. Yes, a good gore film can be an end in and of itself, but that would require more gore than we get here.

Frankly, the one memorable bit has nothing really to do with the plot. It occurs when our group stops at a diner and discover their waitress looks just like Large Marge. This prompts another of the group to go “Who?” The other lets them know the reference and they just shrug him off. It struck me as another sign of cinema as a commodity and not as art, that the past is being forgotten. Sure, it was clever for the writer to include, but it sort of talks down to those who enjoy cinema, to those to whom movies are important. I am sure I am over thinking it, but that is about the only really memorable bit.

Serviceable direct to video thriller, sure. Forgettable romp, certainly. Worth your while? Not really. There is certainly worse out there, but this just never really takes off and goes anywhere.

The movie is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 and really looks quite good. It might be thrills on a budget, but the video looks really sharp. There is good color saturation, strong blacks, and good detail in dark scenes. The daylight scenes look particularly good, even as cars are racing madly down the highway n tracking shots. The audio track is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 one and, like the video, does a pretty good job acquitting itself.

Extras include a commentary with director Declan O'Brien, director's video diaries, deleted scenes, pre-vis sequences, and more.

Not Recommended.

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