Rusty Nail is back! Whether you want him to be or not! I’m not a big fan of the Joy Ride franchise. I thought the first two were okay and that pretty much sums up how I feel about this latest installment, Joy Ride 3: Roadkill. It has its moments but overall feels lifeless and entirely unnecessary. Worst of all, the characters are so lifeless, the film gives the audience no one to root for!
After a prologue in which Rusty takes care of some meth heads who try to roll him, we’re introduced to the real prey. This time around it’s a street racing team that pisses him off. On their way to a race, they decide to test their fate by taking an infamous stretch of highway known for making people disappear. That’s where they run into Rusty, who they narrowly cut off. Like the old school road rager that he is, Rusty trails the team, leading to a bloody game of cat and mouse.
In the last installment, Rusty toyed with the kids a lot, which made the kills a bit more fun. Like the craps game scene. In this one, he just uses various parts of his truck to torture and kill them. That choice works well because it makes the truck almost like its own character, but unfortunately the kills aren’t very inspired. There’s a ton of blood, sure, there’s isn’t any cleverness behind the mayhem though. Rusty Nails himself isn’t an interesting villain either. He’s got no personality and besides throwing some puns around, there’s simply nothing appealing about him.
As far as the street racing team goes (Kirsten Prout, Ben Hollingsworth, Jesse Hutch, Gianpaolo Venuta, Leela Savasta), I did appreciate that none of them are obnoxious caricatures. There’s no wicked annoying pest, no ditz, no dimwitted jock type – just some normal kids. But much like Rusty Nail, they just don’t have much going on. We don’t get to know them or care about them, so it’s nothing but apathy for this lot. Rooting for the villain is common in horror, but since Rusty AND the kids are so hollow, Joy Ride 3 provides us no one to cheer on.
The script makes some really nonsensical decisions as well. In one scene, Rusty tells the kids to meet him at a junkyard, so one of the kids calls 911. Y’know, so he can tell them exactly where this rampaging murderer is. But then another kid, Jordan, takes the phone and hangs it up. When Jordan gets to the junkyard, he tells them to take the car and find a gas station to call the police. The fuck, Jordan? The cops could’ve been there already!
There a couple very good-looking stunts in the film. Car flips, exploding cars, stuff like that. The eye candy is hardly a band-aid for the desolate characters and script though. The prologue is probably the best part of the movie because it manages to be fun. From there, Joy Ride 3 just goes completely flaccid. For a lazy Sunday matinee it’s okay, but if you’re looking for something with some real juice to it, look elsewhere.