• Joy Ride 3: Road Kill

    Released By: 20th Century Fox
    Released On: June 17, 2014
    Director: Declan O'Brien

    Cast: Ken Kirzinger, Jesse Hutch, Ben Hollingsworth
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie

    I remember the original Joy Ride as an unremarkable thriller starring Steve Zahn, Paul Walker (who had just come off of the first Fast and the Furious film), and Leelee Sobieski. It definitely didn't strike me as the kind of film that deserved a sequel, let alone its own franchise. And yet, like the Wrong Turn series before it, Joy Ride 3: Road Kill is here to prove there's no movie that can't be made into a franchise and driven into the ground. So it should come as no surprise either, that this third film in the Joy Ride series is from director Declan O'Brien, the filmmaker behind Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, and Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines.

    Just so you know what you're getting yourself into with this movie, it opens up in a rundown motel room with a naked woman fucking her boyfriend cowgirl style while smoking crystal meth. The girl runs out of meth mid-Cowgirl though, and she can't get off without her fix, so the couple decide to lure a trucker to their hotel room so they can rob him for meth money. Too bad for these methheads, the trucker they try to lure is Rusty Nail, the killer trucker from the last two Joy Ride movies. So Rusty Nail kidnaps the methheads, and as things tend to go in this series, he makes them a deal where they can live if they can survive a redneck death trap. He's kind of like Jigsaw from the Saw series if he watched too much Smoky and the Bandit growing up. Anyways, Rusty Nail chains the methheads to the front of his semi truck and tells them that if they can survive one mile, they can have the bag of meth he taped to the window. Of course, when he slows down after one mile, the girl can't resist the lure of delicious crystal meth and the pair are ripped into bloody chunks of meat beneath the wheels of his truck. So yes, the movie is off to a classy start before the credits roll. Did I say classy? I meant white trash as hell.

    The actual plot of the movie follows a young team of street racers and their girlfriends as they are on their way to compete in the Road Rally 1000 in Brandon, Manitoba. The youth lose their way, as tends to happen when you're driving straight north towards Canada, and they stop at a roadside cafe to get some directions towards Highway 17. This stretch of road, they learn from a nutty conspiracy theorist at the diner, is nicknamed “Slaughter Alley,” because of how many people tend to disappear and die horribly while driving on it. In addition to the road's brutal legend, he also tells them about aliens, the NSA, and Canadian drug-runners. He's your typical slasher movie “Crazy Ralph” figure, and because it's that kind of movie the kids ignore his warnings and head on their way. The racers decide to take the race car for a test ride on their way to Highway 17, and that's where they run afoul of Rusty Nail after cutting him off in a stunt on the highway. He quickly catches up to them and starts playing some deadly road games of his own.

    Canadian actor and stuntman Ken Kirzinger (who played Jason Voorhees in Freddy Vs. Jason) takes on the role of Rusty Nail in this sequel. He's got a nice, gravelly sounding voice, and he's an extremely tall, imposing figure, but Joy Ride 3 doesn't give him much to do except grimace a lot while driving and uttering bland statements about “justice” and “paying the price” while he tortures his victims. Kirzinger's a natural fit for the character, but unfortunately, that character doesn't have a lot to recommend to him either. He's not as iconic as Freddy, Jason, the Jigsaw puppet, or even The Collector. He just looks like a trucker driver, and he tortures people who drive on his road. He's kind of a boring character.

    There's a subplot with a highway patrol officer (Dean Armstrong) trying to solve what he thinks are the murders on Highway 17, but it feels very tacked on to the plot. The rest of the plot is torture, rinse and repeat. Rusty Nail separates someone from the racing team away from the rest, and then he kidnaps, tortures and kills them, and then does it all over again. The plot is repetitive to the point of tedium. What makes it even worse is that the characters are idiots who do the exact opposite thing that they should be doing, and it all feels in service to the gory set pieces on display. The kills are placed throughout just to please the gore hounds, and feel like money shots in a porno. This is especially true of one death scene in which a woman is split in two on the top of Rusty Nail's truck, and her torso is ripped from her waist in a geyser of blood. Your average gore hound might get something out of scenes like this, but I was so bored by the time it arrived that I just didn't care anymore.


    Joy Ride 3: Road Kill arrives in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack courtesy of 20th Century Fox. The video is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with a rather low-detailed (19 Mbps) MPEG-4 AVC encode on a single layer 25GB Blu-ray disc. Detail here is fairly soft, even during close ups. However, color contrast appears natural and there is are solid black levels during the scenes at night, which is more than half of the film. This isn't a movie that's ever going to impress on a visual level, so the transfer here is satisfactory.

    The audio is more impressive, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that adds a lot of menace to the movie with a full, dynamic sound. The sound design in the movie is surprisingly atmospheric, and the movie uses the 5.1 audio design to great effect. Whether it's the sound of a rumbling engine, or a character getting their face chopped off with a fan, the sound is top notch.

    This Blu-ray comes loaded with special features, including a Director's Commentary, a making of feature called “Road Rage: The Blood, Sweat and Gears of Joy Ride 3,” “Riding Shotgun with Declan: “Director's Die-aries,” a casting featurette called “Finding Large Marge” (which yes, is a reference to Pee Wee's Big Adventure), an extended found footage sequence from the movie called “Jewel's Message,” a few deleted scenes, some pre-vis special effects sequences, and trailers for upcoming 20th Century Fox releases. There's probably more special features included here than anyone would ever care to watch, but I guess if there are hardcore Joy Ride fans out there, they'll appreciate the inclusion of so many extras.

    The Final Word

    Joy Ride 3 is not a bad movie, but it doesn't have very much to positively recommend it either. Aside from Kirzinger, the cast is so bland that their characters are completely forgettable. The plot is repetitive and the dialogue is completely tone deaf. From beginning to end, the plot feels like a foregone conclusion, and so it won't surprise you at all when the ending leaves the door wide open for a fourth entry. Joy Ride 3 doesn't build tension so much as it aims for a constantly loud, violent, white-trash spectacle. Aside from some good gore sequences, Joy Ride 3 is a bland retread of a series that's running on empty.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!