Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Road Kill 2: Dead Ahead"

The original "Road Kill" was a great thriller starring Paul Walker and Steve Zahn as two brothers who play a trick over a CB radio against a trucker by the moniker of "Rusty Nail". Of course, a pissed off Rusty Nail sought revenge, relentlessly stalking the brothers.

In this day-and-age of endless direct-to-DVD sequels, it's quite astounding the variation in quality you can find. "Wrong Turn 2" was gorier, funnier and more entertaining than many theatrically released films. "The Grudge 3" and "Boogeyman 3" were fairly blah. "Pulse 2" was pretty darn awful.

Luckily, I felt "Road Kill 2: Dead Ahead" was well above average. And it actually brings back Rusty Nail, rather than just being an in-name-only sequel. This time around, two sisters (Nicki Aycox, Laura Jordan) and their boyfriends (Nick Zano, Kyle Schmid) break down in the desert on the way to Las Vegas. After a bit of hiking, they come across an abandoned house with a 1971 Corvette inside. They decide to borrow the car until they can find a rental car. Then they'll return with the Corvette - and some cash. But the car belongs to none other than Rusty Nail, and that pisses him off. He kidnaps Zano, and puts the other three through various mental and physical tortures in an effort to save him.

This one really sucked me in. It builds up the suspense at a steady pace, before finally letting loose with a gruelling torture scene, a couple of exciting car-chase sequences and a couple of other suspenseful scenarios. Director Louis Morneau has been behind many a direct-to-DVD venture, and he's had more than his share of duds, but he really seems to be in his element here. He also gets good performances out of his actors - the torture scene is actually largely free of gore, but the two actors involved look so frightened, and in so much pain, you really buy into it.

"Road Kill 2: Dead Ahead" seems to have received largely negative reviews on-line. But I found it to be well-crafted schlock, with a cast and crew who actually seemed invested in how the final product would turn out.

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