[img]http://i.imgur.com/VvRmeqF.jpg[/img]Releasing/Participating Studio(s): 20th Century Fox/Regency
Disc/Transfer Information: Region A; 1.78:1 (Original Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1) 1080p High Definition 25GB Blu-ray Disc
Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC (19.00 Mbps)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Director: Declan O’Brien
Starring Cast: Ken Kirzinger, Jesse Hutch, Ben Hollingsworth
Has anyone ever seen the original Joy Ride, a little under-the-radar horror/thriller starring the late Paul Walker and which immediately taught the lesson of not making pranks on people over a CB radio? I did, and I actually own the DVD because I think it’s one of those quiet underrated films a la Knockaround Guys, Boiler Room and maybe even Identity that went largely unnoticed but which also boasted a magnetism of some kind; I however, in my wildest dreams, never would have imagined Fox making a franchise out of this material even though that’s apparent what has happened while I was sleeping. Here we are at Joy Ride 3: Roadkill and I don’t even recall the sequel coming out. Be that as it may, this one, helmed by Declan O’Brien and starring an equally elusive cast of nobodies save for Ken Kirzinger (who played Jason Voorhees in at least one installment of the Friday the 13th films once New Line Cinema bought the rights to it and basically flushed the franchise down the toilet), loses all the charisma, mystery and creepiness of the original Joy Ride and it isn’t just because Walker isn’t in the quasi-lead here. What Fox and O’Brien attempt to do with this is turn it towards the torture horror sub-genre in the flavor of films like Saw and the latter Texas Chainsaw Massacre sequels, in that now we have the “Rusty Nail” killer trucker character interested in killing kids in horrific, sadistic ways while friends watch via live feeds or over their cell phones. In the original film, Walker’s character is a college kid trying to make his way across country to pick up his cute girlfriend in another school (Leelee Sobieski) while bailing his dirtbag brother (Steve Zahn) out of jail along the way, and when the boys pick up an old CB radio and play a prank on a trucker named “Rusty Nail,” they are stalked from that point forward by the twisted, psychotic nut…but what that first film does so well is dispense with blood and graphic horror for a more psychologically assaulting mystery that ends up being pretty nail-biting in nature; we never see Rusty’s face and only hear him on the radio as he hisses out ways in which he’s going to get even with the boys for what they have done to him. Of course, there is an eventual confrontation between Rusty Nail and the boys (and Sobieski’s character who joins them) but the film is more in the style of the original Hitcher with Rutger Hauer (actually with even a bit less blood than that film) more so than a brutal horror picture.
Joy Ride 3 takes a complete opposite approach and the film absolutely stinks because of it; this was easily one of the most laughable titles to be released in a while, and I’m not even sure if it saw any theater screen time. The third entry in this wholly unnecessary “franchise” takes characters created by none other than J.J. “Star Trek” Abrams – actually, just one as I see it, “Rusty Nail” – and turns the narrative into a horrific gore-fest complete with torturous contraptions, body parts being shredded, buckets of blood and a totally visible Rusty Nail, who sounds nothing like the original character did in the first film. What Kirzinger does right is really ham up the performance of the psycho trucker, really creating a terrifying, ridiculously strong menace that can’t be fought physically…in this way, you could totally see him behind the hockey mask as killer Jason Voorhees. We are also greeted by a pack of imbecilic, downright stupid kids in this third installment that no one would miss anyway; of course, the horror formula always suggests kids get killed in mayhem-sweeping numbers, which I’m all for after you see how most of these idiots behave and interrupt society, but here the ante is upped in the form of a pack of street racer punks who are making their way to the “Road Rally 1000” in Canada. What’s ironic is that Paul Walker probably would have been a good fit in this installment, what with his connection to the Fast and the Furious films, but putting that aside, before we get to the horrific events that soon befall these racer punks, the film opens with a strung-out young couple fiending for another hit of crack in their motel room. For whatever reason, these two idiots are in possession of a CB radio and the tattoo-covered guy in the relationship comes up with the brilliant plan of luring a truck driver to them where they can then clock him over the head and rob him for money to support their drug binge. The scraggly, skinny, emaciated blonde that is his “significant other” reaches out to a trucker on the radio named “Rusty Nail” and does her best impression of a love-starved, insatiable tart who can’t wait to meet Rusty at this motel room (similar to the prank Zahn and Walker play on him in the first film). What’s bizarre and not explained is how this Rusty Nail knew he was being set up by the couple, as when he arrives at the motel and the boyfriend opens the door to their room to clock him with a lamp, he’s ready for them, knocking the guy out and saying “You don’t look at all like your picture…” in reference to the pose the girlfriend sent to him via her phone.
From here, the film begins to dip into Saw territory and the torture overtones begin, as we see the druggie couple tied to the hood of Rusty’s truck with chains that are connected to the vehicle’s axle. Rusty begins playing games with the kids in revenge for messing with him, telling them all they have to do is hold on for one mile and not allow the chains to slip into the axle (wherein they would be pulled to their horrific deaths under the truck) and then he’ll let them free…making the deal even sweeter is a packet of crystal meth Rusty puts on his windshield to tempt and tease the strung-out junkies, luring them toward letting go of their hood-bound chains. Rusty appears to be untrustworthy, as after the mile has passed, he keeps driving – but the most horrifying part comes when the blonde chick, desperate for the drugs just within her grasp, reaches out and gets both of them chopped into a million bloody pieces on the highway.
As the police investigate this stretch of road notorious for murders – committed, supposedly, by a lunatic truck driver – another pack of kids are getting ready to have their run-in with the infamous Rusty Nail. These morons come in the form of a team of street racers named Jordan Wells (Jesse Hutch), Mickey Cole (Ben Hollingsworth), Austin Moore (Gianpaolo Ventura), Bobby Crow (Jake Manley) and two of the guys’ smokin’ hot girlfriends, blonde Jewel McCaul (Kirsten Prout) and brunette Alisa Rosado (Leela Savasta). After some early nonsense regarding the way this team is going to get up to Canada to attend a big race with their souped-up Subaru sedan – and after the hot girls change out of denim miniskirts and short shorts and high heels into skimpy “team” outfits they bought to tease the guys during their photoshoot – the action shifts to their confrontation with Rusty Nail. Upon entering a roadside diner, the group encounter a bizarre waitress who takes their order of “cheeseburgers with everything on them to go” followed by a creepy conversation with a weirdo in the diner who warns them to go nowhere near the stretch of road they’re planning on taking as a shortcut to the Canadian border. When a local sheriff shows up and debunks this nut’s credibility, the team decides to take the desolate stretch of road to save time on their journey.
As Jordan and Mickey drive their Subaru racecar, with girlfriends Jewel and Alisa in the back seat, the remainder of the team takes their SUV and trailer, the boys and girls eventually riding side by side on this infamous stretch of highway. Jordan begins opening up the Subaru’s engine as practice for the race until they begin to come upon a large semi truck in front of them. Instead of just going around the truck or dropping speed, the idiots decide to mess with the driver by flying around him and nearly running him off the road for some laughs. You know what moronic, fearless kids do, right? While the girls are protesting in the back seat, the boys find it hysterical…but someone who doesn’t find it funny is the driver of that truck, our friend Rusty Nail. A wild game of chicken and cat and mouse then ensues as Rusty Nail attempts to exact road revenge on the punks, eventually leading to his near jackknifing on the highway because of another oncoming car. But he is not finished with them yet.
Utilizing an online database, Rusty tracks down the owner of the car and his personal information based on the personalized license plate of the Subaru they were driving. He then reaches out to the kids via CB radio – remember: this is 2014 and these kids have CB radios and walkie talkies – and begins the classic string of violent threats, making it clear that he knows exactly who they are and where they live. From there, Joy Ride 3 becomes a canvas of horrific graphic gore as Rusty Nail manages to dismember a couple of the boys in shocking ways, kidnap Jewel and kill her in a rather overtly nasty way (she’s cut literally in half when she’s tied to the top of Rusty’s truck and he drives swiftly across a bridge with a low overpass) and then finally square off against Jordan as the kid desperately attempts to rescue whatever remaining and surviving friends he may have left. Meanwhile, the law is still attempting to find this crazed killer who is leaving blood trails and body parts everywhere, eventually leading the cops to who they think is Rusty Nail but who ends up being just a truck driver hauling some bloody meat in the back.
As the final frames of the film close in, Rusty makes a deal with Jordan over the radio – he will release Jewel and another of his friends if Jordan gives up his Subaru as “payment” (one of the cheesiest pieces of narrative I’ve ever heard of). While Jordan agrees, it’s clear that at least one of the kids Rusty promises to let go has been horrifically killed when a steel face mask of some kind was tightened so snug by Rusty it cut bloody holes into the kid; of course, Jewel’s fate is the same when she’s cut in half from the waist up after Rusty drives her over a low-slung bridge. In a desolate junkyard, Jordan attempts to fist fight with the massive, lumbering Rusty Nail but this proves horrifically ineffective as the big killer kicks the ever-loving snot out of the punk racer, smashing his bloody face in with punch after ridiculously strong punch. As Rusty gets back into his truck, the two sole survivors at this point – Jordan and Mickey’s girlfriend Alisa – attempt to get Rusty Nail one last desperate time by using a massive construction crushing device, which Jordan utilizes to smash up the cab of Rusty’s truck with the killer in it, eventually dumping it into a crushing machine.
When cops descend upon the scene the next day, one of the dim-witted deputies demands to see the body of the killer which was supposed to be mangled inside the twisted heap that was once his truck. Alas, it seems Fox is going to make a Joy Ride 4 because not only is Rusty Nail not in the smashed truck, we see him healthy and hitchhiking on the side of the highway until he lands a ride with an unsuspecting truck driver.
I don’t know how much more they can milk this “franchise” even in direct-to-video form, but Joy Ride 3 was nothing like the original (which wasn’t exactly motion picture art to begin with). I understand the studio execs may be looking at the “Rusty Nail” character as a serial killer type that can be exploited with the best of them including Freddy, Jason, Michael and Leatherface…but the material is just so dumb and uninspired, boasting characters we care nothing about. At least the first Joy Ride had some memorable performances from Walker and especially Zahn, who injected some humor into the story; plus, there was the way in which Rusty Nail was kept in the shadows and remained a terrifying voice on the CB radio. Here, the killer is exposed and simply wants to make mincemeat out of every unsuspecting youngster he runs into – but perhaps most chillingly ironic is the fact that this “Rusty Nail” doesn’t set out with the intention of racking up a death toll on his highway…he comes in contact with moronic kids that “mess” with him and attempt pranks of varying degrees, which puts him over the edge and in the mood for some delicious revenge.
You know something? I’d want to teach these a-holes a lesson, too, so I say “Go Rusty Nail go!”
[img]http://s30.postimg.org/eiz0nkcgh/image.png[/img]VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?
Amazingly, for such a low-budget title, Joy Ride 3 looked and sounded absolutely great on Fox’s Blu-ray presentation. Exhibited in a letterbox-less (on my display) 1.78:1 widescreen ratio, the picture quality here was near-reference, with loads of explosive detail, accurate skin tones, richly saturated colors and an overall incredibly clean look. Close up details such as those of pebbles on the ground, the asphalt on the highway, the facial hair on Rusty Nail’s evil mug and the body parts being dismembered in a rather gory fashion were all rendered in an incredibly eye-popping way; this was a clear positive demonstration of 1080p done right.
When the action shifted from the sun-drenched deserted stretches of highway to the nighttime sequences, the transfer continued to hold up with rock-solid blacks, no banding or noise and suitable shadow detail. The rich blues of the girls’ tantalizing race team outfits and the paint on the kids’ Subaru popped with convincing realism while the sequences involving shots on the highway were bathed in an equally realistic warm tone, transporting us to that barren, isolated place in which these kids were going to meet their demise.
Great job here in the video department by Fox.
[img] http://imageserver.moviepilot.com/fangoria-unleashes-4-brutal-photos-from-upcoming-joy-ride-3-roadkill-d6cfd1d2-ee9d-46b8-a034-2913bd6e3bbe.jpeg?width=730&height=411[/img]AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack accompanying Joy Ride 3 was every bit the equal to the video presentation, surprisingly – the track was tight, loud, aggressive and appropriately balanced in terms of surround element envelopment. What surprised me the most was the tightly-controlled thudding of LFE even at low master volume levels…with every crash and smash of trucks, cars and Rusty Nail’s death machine that is his semi-tractor-trailer, the mix delivered an accompanying wallop of tight, rattle-free bass that was enjoyable to experience. The whole track was mastered – finally – at a rather high, hot level, rendering dialogue clearly and cleanly while also delivering effective surround moments at appropriate times.
Speaking of surround activity, the track was mysteriously lean in the surround department in terms of sheer usage – but this was compensated for when realistic panning and effects placement of birds flying, rain falling, glass breaking and tires screeching came into play. All in all a very enjoyable audio track for a film that didn’t really deserve the effort…and this is something I’ve reported on all too often in this line of work.
This was a totally unnecessary addition to Fox’s attempt at a “franchise” with the Joy Ride brand name; it’s as cheesy, off putting, stomach-churning and utterly annoying as any of those bombs of horror films that have come and gone such as Wolf Creek, The Descent, The Ruins, The Last Exorcism et al and you’ll care even less about this pack of idiotic kids than in those films (though their girlfriends are eye candy of a high magnitude). If you want to see this kind of story done somewhat right, try to get a hold of the original Joy Ride starring Paul Walker and Steve Zahn; that film was so much more effective in the tension, mystery and creepiness departments even though it was far from a mesmerizing motion picture.
If you’re a graphic horror aficionado – and yes asere I’m talking to you – this may be worth a rental because it definitely goes down the “bloody and violent torture horror” road. If you need something to rent, you can give it a try; otherwise, this can be skipped.
I will have my review of another quasi-horror title, The Possessed Boy: The Exorcist File, up soon.