‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ is the third film to be made in the ‘Joy Ride’ series, and the second unnecessary sequel to the 2001 J.J. Abrams co-written slaughter film. In this go around, Rusty Nail (Ken Kirzinger), the maniacal truck driver with a predilection for killing people, butts heads with a bunch of young street racers. The drama starts when the racers, excitedly on their way to the Road Rally 1000, take a shortcut on a desolate stretch of highway, and naively cut off a truck while messing around. None of them realize that its driver will literally hunt them down and kill them to get revenge for their slight.
In a fashion familiar to fans of the series the deaths portrayed in the film are both gruesome and sometimes imaginative, but by the third go around truck related murder can only be so entertaining. The first ‘Joy Ride’ had a lot going for it in terms of originality and suspense, but the sequels have squandered most of this. The character of Rusty Nail, mysterious and complex in the original, is now just a banal and predictable slaughter villain. This is doubly unfortunate seeing as Rusty Nail is the only thing that makes the film worth watching.
Surprisingly, the movie’s acting is not terrible, though some of the dialogue is laughable. Kirzinger, the third actor to portray Rusty Nail, is adequate in the role, but he honestly wasn’t given a lot to work with. Most of the characters are replaceable and unmemorable. It is hard to figure out if this is the fault of the screenplay or the actors. When watching the movie it is pretty easy to forget who is still alive, and once someone is dead they might as well have never existed because they fall right out of your mind. Once you get passed the initial story set-up, which crumbles away about fifteen minutes into the movie, everything becomes a jumbled series of slaughter set-ups. By the end it’s hard to remember what the film’s original premise was.
Horror films, especially slaughter movies, are always unique in that they breed sequels faster than any other genre save possibly animated kids movies. The main formula (scary villain(s), murder, etc.) is easy to replicate, but hard to perfect, and many such a sequel has phoned it in. ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ does maintain many of the core elements of the series, but it sacrifices a lot of the mystery and suspense. Fans of the second film, and campy slaughter films in general, will find a lot to enjoy here. People looking for a solid horror movie about a killer trucker should probably just rewatch the first ‘Joy Ride.’