Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Detours Can Be Deadly

As direct-to-DVD directors go, Louis Morneau is one of the better ones and is certainly more skilled than a lot of directors getting paid a lot of money to make big-budget studio films. One of hundreds of young filmmakers given a break by the legendary Roger Corman, Morneau moved up—slightly—from cheapies like CARNOSAUR 2 to slightly less cheap B-pictures like BATS and MADE MEN, which is a genuinely funny and well-made desert thriller.

Morneau now seems to be stuck in subpar sequels, following THE HITCHER 2 with a followup to a cracking good John Dahl thriller that wasn't exactly crying out "franchise." In JOY RIDE, two young men and a female friend are terrorized on the highway by a gravel-voiced trucker who calls himself "Rusty Nail." Well, Rusty Nail is back in JOY RIDE 2: DEAD AHEAD (!), but he's no longer played by the chilling Ted Levine (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), and the new young stars are nowhere near as charismatic as Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn and—yes—Paul Walker were in the original.

Four college-aged jackasses are stranded in the desert on a road trip to Las Vegas and trek on foot to the nearest house. Seeing no one around, they "borrow" the owner's muscle car, but leave a note with Melissa's (Nicki Aycox) phone number, promising to return the car the next day. It was their bad luck to pick on Rusty Nail (Mark Gibbon), who responds by kidnapping Melissa's fiancé Bobby (Nick Zano) and terrorizing Melissa, her sister Kayla (Laura Jordan) and Kayla's emo Internet hookup Nick (Kyle Schmid).

This is, frankly, a terrible script that requires its protagonists to act as stupidly as possible in order to drag the story out to 90 minutes. At any time, they could/should have called the cops, but they keep convincing each other with ridiculous arguments not to. The nadir is a depiction of some kind of bizarre redneck trucker cult, where shotgun-toting truck drivers hang out in a gravel pit jonesing for crystal meth and participating in drag races.

Aycox, who starred in the similar JEEPERS CREEPERS 2, is fine as the Final Girl, but her costars are crummy, and Gibbon is a far less threatening menace than Levine, even when Morneau steers the picture into torture porn territory.


AndyDecker said...

The problem with these current slasher flicks is that all those young and beautiful actors have the personality of a slice of pizza and are just annoying. After five minutes you root for the generic serial killer.

Which adds a new dimension of boring to most of these movies.

mark cowherd said...

Marty: I bought Joy Ride 2 on DVD because of the actress Laura Jordan. My interest in her began this way: There is a documentary called "Camp Hollywood: Wannabe Stars in a No-Star Hotel" on Utube and she is one of the Wannabes in that cheap Hotel. Recommended viewing. Mark