Entertaining, gory but ultimately silly horror

Trucker serial-killer Rusty Nail continues his reign of terror in the third instalment of the Joy Ride franchise. In Joy Ride 3, Rusty Nail (played this time around by stuntman/actor Ken Kirzinger) is innocently driving along in his rig when he’s almost run off the road by a group of street racers taking a shortcut to their next race. The trucker then hunts them down, making sure they regret ever crossing him.

The first Joy Ride–directed by John Dahl back in 2001–was a financial and critical success, with the poor straight-to-video Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead coming out in 2008. Joy Ride 3 is a vast improvement and a bit closer to the first film, with an interesting story, slick production and some brutal deaths being doled out by Rusty.

Joy Ride 3
Written & Directed by
Declan O’Brien
Jesse Hutch, Kirsten Prout, Ben Hollingsworth, Ken Kirzinger
Digital Release Date
3 June 2014
Ed’s Grade: C

Joy Ride 3 kicks off with a couple of naked tweekers screwing each other, but they’ve just ran out of drugs, and make the mistake of trying to rob Rusty Nail for their next hit. For their troubles, Rusty attaches the pair to his truck-driveshaft (this is planet Serial-Killer where it’s easy moving limp bodies around, and chaining them to a truck in broad daylight is perfectly feasible) where they meet with a gruesome end. Now that Rusty’s killer bonafides have been established, the film begins in earnest.

The group of street racers are heading to the Road Rally 1000, with co-driver Austin Moore (Gianpaolo Venuta, Being Human) doing the driving, and because he’s the group clown, when he sees a truck up ahead he decides to have fun with the driver. He doesn’t realise he’s about to make the biggest mistake of his soon-to-be-very-short life, and almost forces the trucker off the road. Main driver Jordan Wells (Jesse Hutch) takes over from Austin but the damage has been, and now each of them are in grave danger.

Ken Kirzinger played the Rusty Nail character well, and with us not really seeing his face for most of the film, it was quite effective. Rusty had this mysterious air about him but towards the end it began moving away from mysterious and towards downright ridiculous. Some of Rusty’s killing technique was quite original and inventive, and I liked that it was mostly achieved using items from his truck. I’ve never seen snow-chains being used like that before, and we were also treated to watching Rusty remove someone’s face with his fan-motor which I’m sure will keep gore-hounds happy.

Writer-director Declan O’Brien is well known for his B movies, like Wrong Turn 4 & 5, but he’s also known for writing scripts that have gone on to make TV movie disasters. Take the 2007 Harpies for example, which is about as bad as a fantasy film can get. The plot-holes in Joy Ride 3 are huge and many, however this isn’t a film where that sort of thing should matter too much, which is just as well.

The acting was good enough for a low-budget movie, the production was where this film shone and there were some great special effects. If you can overlook the many things that don’t make a whole lot of sense then you’ll certainly enjoy Joy Ride 3.

Review by Ed Blackadder