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Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead is a sequel to the original Joy Ride, which I really don't remember all too well, so I'm not going to be able to make any comparisons between the two. Rather, this film will have to stand up on it's own... if it can!

Soon-to-be-married Melissa and Bobby are driving across the country to their combined bachelor/bachelorette party. Along for the ride is Kayla, Melissa's sister, and Nik, a guy Melissa met on MySpace or Facebook or something. Now, Nik wants to take a back road shortcut he sees on the map instead of keeping on the highway, which makes very little sense, but whatever. So he convinces the girls who in turn convince Bobby, and they're off! A long drive later, and their car breaks down. A long hike later, and they find themselves at an apparently abandoned house. Nik sneaks around to the side and, without telling anyone, breaks a window. He then starts yelling like he's hurt, so Bobby kicks down the front door, but of course it was all a ruse and Nik is fine. But we already knew that because we know Nik is a punk.

In the garage area, they find a perfectly kept up muscle car, and since the phones don't seem to work, they decide to borrow it. The plan is just to drive to the next town which contains a rental car place, and then come back to return the car. What they don't realize, however, is the plan changed as soon as Rusty Nails returned home to find his house broken into and his car missing.

Rusty is able to track down the our fearsome foursome we assume by using his trucker contacts, so he heads to the diner where they're getting a bite and promptly kidnaps Bobby, in broad daylight, with nobody noticing. He then calls Melissa, since she left her phone number on the door of his house and all, and the games begin! Don't go to the police or Bobby is dead. Do everything I say or Bobby is dead. Yeah, real imaginative.

First things first, he instructs Melissa to take all their cell phones and run over them with his car. Next, he instructs Melissa (through the CB radio in his car) to cut off her sister's middle finger because she unknowingly flipped him the bird earlier on. At this point, you know the guy is crazy and it's time to go to the cops. Yeah, I know, if you do Bobby will die. Well, guess what? This guy is psycho and Bobby is as good as dead anyway. Your best bet is to tell this guy that you know this, and that you know where he lives, and if he doesn't hand over Bobby then you're going to the police. Of course, Melissa doesn't see it like that.

Anyway, you pretty much know what goes down. He gives her instructions, she pretends to follow them but tries to trick him. He already knows that she is going to try to trick him and is prepared. It's all rather straightforward. Kinda feels by-the-book. If I was Nik, I would have been outta there and straight to the cops before Melissa ever even crushed the cellphones. He hardly knew any of them, so I have no idea why he stuck around.

I think one of the things that held this movie back is the lack of chemistry between the characters. I never really believed Melissa and Bobby had been in a loving relationship. I didn't buy that Melissa and Kayla were sisters. The only dynamic that was half-way believable was Nik, because was supposed to be the first time he actually met any of them. And even he seemed more like a stereotype than a real person. It's way more difficult to build suspense with characters that we don't really care about.

There are a few special features here, none which really feel like anything special. There is a fairly typical making-of featurette, and it does its job well, showing various behind the scenes stuff. Then there is a featurette entitled Blood and Guts: The "Make-Up" of Horror. This shows how they did the various horror effects, like severed fingers or sliced off jaw. Most of us have seen this kind of thing before, and are fully aware of how they do this, but if you're not one of us then it could be interesting. Finally there is a storyboard-to-scene comparison. I rarely watch these, as they tend to be quite dull, and this one is no exception.

I've definitely seen better horror movies, but at least it held my attention... most of the time. There weren't a whole lot of death scenes, and the ones that did exist didn't feel realistic. It build up a little suspense in some places, but overall the suspense wasn't very effective either, probably due to plainess of the characters. What's really shocking is that the manufacturer's suggested retail price for this DVD is $26.98. Talk about horror! There is no way this release is worth that much! I'd be hesitant to recommend it at a price point of $9.99. I'd say rent it, but only if there's nothing else available.

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead, released by 20th Century Fox, is available starting October 7, 2008.

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