The first Joy Ride film (aka Road Kill for the UK) was hardly a classic but it was enjoyable horror that introduced the world to Rusty Nail. A serial killer trucker who ends up punishing brothers Lewis (Paul Walker) and Fuller (Steve Zahn) after they play a cruel prank on him. Let’s be honest, the moment anyone mentions this film, they automatically try to do a Ted Levine (uncredited) voice saying “Candy Cane”.
It was a good movie, it just wasn’t a great movie and no-one, regardless of endings, were eagerly awaiting a follow-up. Of course, a sequel is what we got but not until 2008.
Called Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (Road Kill 2: Dead Ahead in the UK), the film was directed by Louis Morneau and stars Nicki Aycox, Nick Zano, Kyle Schmid, Laura Jordan and Mark Gibbon.
Are you ready for more Rusty Nail? Rustier Nail? Good, because this film is going to give it to you. Thus, ruining a major part of the trucker’s mystique. Whereas the first film had the man turn psychotic after having been pranked, this film has him murdering a prostitute in the first few minutes. It’s not a good start, especially as it’s clear the budget for this movie is much lower.
Melissa (Nicki Aycox), her sister Laura (Kayla Scott) and her fiancé Bobby (Nick Zano) are road tripping across the country for a joint bachelor/bachelorette in Las Vegas. Along the way, they end up picking Nik (Kyle Schmid) who is Laura’s online boyfriend. Melissa and Bobby are far from happy about picking up the stranger but agree for him to come along too.
They shouldn’t have though as Nik is an obnoxious douchebag made to be so unlikable. Even later, when he is put in a horrendous position, it’s hard to feel sorry for him. Credit to Kyle Schmid though, at least his character stands out. The others could be from any horror ever such is the lack of memorability they have.
Who cares about them though? Apparently, all we care about is Rusty Nail. Who needs deep and meaningful characters when the star is a murderous trucker! We want to see more of him seemingly so in a hilarious turn of events, our group end up at his house.
Yes, Rusty Nail has a house hidden in the desert and our group break down nearby. Finding the house, thinking it is abandoned (this is a stretch even for this film), they break in. Already, that’s a bad move but upon finding a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle in the barn and discovering it works and has gas, they decide to ‘borrow’ it. The plan being to leave their contact details, take it to town then bring it back the next day.
It all seems fairly sensible; expect for the fact they broke in and it’s not their property. It belongs to a homicidal killer who holds a grudge. A grudge that sees him get in contact with the group, kidnap one then force the rest to take part in dangerous and uncomfortable situations.
Situations like insisting upon Laura cutting her middle finger off and giving it to him after she flipped him off. Or like getting Nik to dress up in women’s clothing, walk through a biker/trucker hangout in the desert while asking for crystal meth.
It sounds like it should be fun but it’s not. Every single event has them trying to work out a way to get around his demands and him always being one-step ahead. In the first film, they stretched the believability of what he could see and hear but here, they over-do it to such an extent, it stops feeling real.
While there is some imagination used in what he demands of the group, eventually it just descends into torture-porn violence for even less originality. All of this might have been passable if it wasn’t for the standard story, bland characters and over-use of Rusty Nail. Instead, what made the first film charming is completely absent here. It’s devoid of life and has zero longevity. Watch it, forget about it directly afterwards.
Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead
The Final Score - 4/10