Roadkill, Joyride, call it what you will, the 2001 horror flick starring Steve Zahn, Fast And Furious‘ Paul Walker and serial underwhelmer Leelee Sobieski, had its moments. Playing on the notion of the lonely, disturbed trucking fraternity and introducing a genuinely creepy serial killer, Rusty Nail, in the process, it also displayed a few moments of true terror, as well as a smattering of good humour. The movie was far from a box office smash however, so the appearance of this straight-to-DVD sequel still raises an eyebrow or two.
As is common with many straight-to-DVD efforts, all the familiar elements of the original are in place to maintain interest among fans of the first and very little effort appears to have been made to bring anything particularly new to the table. So we have the prerequisite young, beautiful people being chased, terrorised and, in many cases, bumped off by a distinctly nasty, faceless individual. We have a cartoonish, albeit bloody nasty villain who will apparently stop at nothing to have his wicked way – he also has a preposterous voice. And we have a bunch of small-minded, hicksville individuals to pepper proceedings.
The aforementioned young, beautiful people – so young and so beautiful that early on in the picture they all strip off for no apparent reason other than to show off their young, nubile bodies – are sisters Melissa and Kayla, Melissa’s husband-to-be Bobby and wild child Emo kid Nik, a random bloke that Kayla met on the Internet. Oh, at this point it’s worth mentioning that the film fervently believes that it’s hip and cool, as demonstrated by the many, many mentions of MySpace, YouTube, Google, Grand Theft Auto – whatever contemporary zeitgeist you can think of, it’s here.
All four are on a road trip together to Vegas when their car breaks down in the desert – cue flesh exposing aplenty. Stumbling across an old, seemingly abandoned house (aren’t they always) they decide to steal the car from the garage, not realising that this is reckless Rusty’s house. Melissa, being a kind soul, leaves her phone number for the house owner to contact them so that they can explain why they’ve nicked his car and that they will pay for any damages to the house. Well, wouldn’t you know it? Rusty manages to track them down and so begins the terrorising in the form of Rusty’s own particular brand of parlour games..
If this scenario leaves you cold, you’re not alone. Quite apart from the fact that I felt absolutely no pity for a bunch of privileged college kids that have the temerity to hijack someone’s car and think that that’s just absolutely fine because they were in a pickle, it’s also a rather convoluted means of bringing Rusty Nail and a bunch of new, unwitting victims together. His treatment of them too, no matter how disturbing, at least has a sense of purpose. There he was, happily bumping off prostitutes and other people in his own free time and along come some little shits that nick his car. He’s got enough on his plate what with getting the bloods out of his clothes – it’s hell on polyester.
While the plot might be yawn inducing, the set pieces are strong on the whole. One scene in particular, pitting Nik and Bobby against each other in a particularly cruel game of dice, is particularly wince inducing, as is the courting of Nik dressed up as a female halfway through the film – another one of Rusty’s games.
Roadkill 2 is by no means a masterpiece and you will swear that you’ve seen it all before – it’s essentially a hybrid of films from time past (The Hitcher, Duel) and any modern horror movie you care to mention – but it’s also far from being a disaster. Best viewed as a B-movie slasher flick – some of the lacklustre effects and plot devices immediately extinguish any loftier aspirations – it offers enough shocks and jumps to keep it from being thrown in the dustbin of banality.
As for extras, there are three separate and small featurettes featuring interviews with the cast and director, as well as showing a few behind-the-scenes looks at how some of the effects were carried out. Neither offers any great insight into proceedings but it does at least look like the cast all got on and had a good time, so that’s something.