Don’t let the fact that this is unrated or that J.J. Abrams was involved with the first film fool you. This is bad, bad stuff. It’s the kind of thing that makes me, a huge fan of horror cinema, agree with the people who say horror movies are the playground of the uneducated.
Having not seen the first film, perhaps I was not the best person to review this. A sequel should, in many ways, stand on its own, though, so I delved into it expecting to understand it and hopeful that it would be mildly entertaining at best. Perhaps I would get lucky and discover a gem that would make me seek out the predecessor. I was wrong on all fronts.
The killer, Rusty Nail (Mark Gibbon), showed some promise at first; his dialogue was creepy as he picked up a wig-wearing lot lizard. Unfortunately, that’s also when the trouble started. His lines are never anything but creepy, which makes him thoroughly one-dimensional. That’s the writers’ fault, as is the rest of what passes itself off as a plot.
Joy Ride 2 is one of those movies that can only exist if every character does something stupid. If characters were to use common sense the entire thing would fall apart. Here you have two couples on their way to Las Vegas when their car breaks down. Solution? Break into a house and steal the car they find there, all while leaving their phone number in the hopes the homeowner will understand why they did it. You’d have a hard time with any homeowner thinking breaking and entering is placated by a note, let alone someone who is as psychopathic as Rusty Nail. The cat and mouse game is then on as Rusty wants … well, you’d assume he wants his car back, but he really just likes killing people and you get the strong sense that had he run across these four he would have killed them for sport regardless of whether or not they took his car. They are an annoying group. I would kill them.
Rusty, it should be noted, may or may not have some supernatural abilities. He can apparently move with cat-like stealth (something truck drivers are known for), survive massive explosions, and has hearing on par with Superman. He’s a lot like a serial-killing Santa Claus. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake. His truck also seems to have magical powers, as it is driven off a cliff and there is clearly no engine under the hood to have guided it to such a fate. Weird.
Rusty abducts one of the girls’ boyfriends (they’re all interchangeable characters that have been in countless films, so identifying them is pointless) and holds him hostage all while torturing him and using him as a bartering tool in order to torment the other three. He gets the group to do outrageous things all with the promise that they’ll eventually be reunited. Yeah, right. Who in their right mind believes a man who steals people from public restrooms? Oh, that’s right. The remaining three characters here.
As mentioned before, this film is unrated, which means anything goes, right? And being straight-to-DVD means religious groups won’t get up in arms if the boundaries of acceptable taste are overlooked. Having a sadistic serial killer truck driver in an unrated movie means this movie can get nasty … except someone forgot to tell the writers that little tidbit.
Examples of dropped ball syndrome abound. First there is a scene where Melissa (Nicki Aycox) is forced to do a striptease out in the middle of nowhere for a trucker she believes to be Mr. Nail. Oh, the possibilities are endless … except she only has to strip down to her bra and panties. What? Did someone force a contract issue? Why wouldn’t Nail, who enjoys killing hookers and cutting off people’s fingers, totally humiliate her? And then there is the scene where Nik (Kyle Schmid), the most annoying character on screen, is made to don the wig and clothes of a previously murdered hooker so he can make his way through some desert trucker paradise (complete with less dead hookers, random gunfire and semi-truck drag races) looking for meth. Imagine just what could go wrong. Forced sodomy. A vicious beating when Nik’s real genitalia is exposed. Well, you’ll have to imagine it because nothing really happens. Sure there are some catcalls and whatnot, and it starts to get promising when some redneck trucker with a gun gets menacing and lets Nik know they can work out a “trade” for meth, but when Nik refuses he’s left alone to go on his merry cross-dressing way with nary an evil glance by the gun-toting horn dog. Maybe Nail has Jedi mind powers, too, and tricked this tweaker convoy into letting Nik pass unscathed.
Continuity problems are commonplace, too. Rather than point them out, you can actually use them to make a fun drinking game. All I’ll say is watch for scenes to go from night to morning almost instantly and for jewelry to appear and disappear randomly. It got so bad that I really expected to see a boom mic in a shoot.
This sequel has nothing to offer anyone other than paychecks if you were unfortunate enough to be involved with it. There is one truly terrifying thing associated with it, however. It is openly for sale on sites like Amazon. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, nothing will.