Road Kill (Joy Ride) (Rental) (2001)

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Released 13-May-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 93:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Dahl
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Paul Walker
Steve Zahn
Leelee Sobieski
Case ?
RPI ? Music Marco Beltrami


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Mastercard
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Originally titled Joy Ride in the U.S and other territories, Road Kill's theatrical release was delayed for about a year in Australia - never a positive sign for a film. Fully prepared for this to be a complete stinker, I was pleasantly surprised to a certain extent as my expectations were exceeded...just.

    While this is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, it serves its purpose as a 90 minute time user and manages to scare us and keep us surprised for most of the picture. The thing that serves this film well is that it does not fall into the 'Horror' genre but rather the 'Thriller' genre. There are no scenes with stupid teenagers running away from a man in a mask or tripping upstairs trying to get away. Rather, it borrows from classics like Steven Spielberg's Duel, although it does fall well short of that mark.

    Two brothers, Lewis and Fuller Thomas (Paul Walker and the incredibly talented Steve Zahn)  are driving across country to meet up with Lewis' would-be girlfriend Venna (Leelee Sobieski). On the way, they hook into a conversation with 'Rusty Nail', a truckie on the CB radio. They impersonate a woman and bait him to meet up with their female character, 'Candy Cane', in Room 17 at a motel in the middle of nowhere for a laugh. When the person who is in Room 17 is brutally maimed, Rusty Nail stalks the boys across the country without mercy.

    Sounds pretty simple, but there are some very well-constructed moments in this film from director John Dahl. Performances are decent but without much to write home about besides Steve Zahn who continues to spend time doing B-Grade films instead of capitalizing on the potential he showed in Out Of Sight.

    In the end, Road Kill is a film which exceeded expectations for me, but be aware that my expectations were very low to begin with. It can fill up over an hour and a half for you and you may find something in it that appeals. At the very least it is a bit of fun.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer of this film is very nice for the most part with a couple of ugly artefacts which spoil the transfer at the start of the film.

    The film is presented in a ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is perfectly sharp and clear for the entire feature. Shadow detail is excellent throughout considering large sections of the film were shot at night or at sunset. The image is clean and does not come close to suffering from a murky or dark picture at any time. There is some very light grain at times, but it is hardly worth mentioning. Some mild edge enhancement is noticed at times with a good example being at 14:29.

    The colours are rock solid and deep throughout. Like the shadow detail, colours blend together perfectly to create a beautiful smooth, realistic picture. There are no instances of colour bleed or other colour related artefacts.

    There were no MPEG artefacts present, but some horrible instances of aliasing at 3:41, 3:52 and between 10:00-10:10. There are a sprinkling of film artefacts noticed constantly through the film, with the worst example being at 46:32.

    I watched about 15 minutes of the English subtitles and found them to be accurate enough to the spoken word.

    This is a single layered disc with no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    This is a very nice audio transfer.

    There is but one audio track available here, an English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack running at 384 kb/s.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. Occasionally the heavy accents and projection of the actors' voices make it a little hard to clearly hear what is said but that is a problem with the source material. There are no problems with audio synch. Lines that have been looped afterward can be detected sometimes, but it is not too off-putting.

    The musical score by Marco Beltrami is filled with tension and suspense when needed. It is a solid effort and one that suits the film very well. During action scenes it emanates from all channels, but is mainly noticed from the left and right channels.

    The surrounds get a very heavy workout during this DVD, especially during the action scenes and scenes with heightened tension. They offer up strong signals with sounds of crushing metal, traffic and ambient effects. Likewise, the subwoofer is used very menacingly during these scenes. With these two aspects of the audio transfer being very good, it enhances the sense of quality about this disc.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Sadly, this disc is a true example of a 'bare bones' disc as it gets no extra features whatsoever, not even promotional trailers for other Fox product!  Oh well....the sell-through release should get at least some.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As mentioned above, there are no extras on this rental release, therefore it is unfair to compare it with the sell-through release currently available in the Region 1 market.

    For the record, the R1 sell-through release contains the following features;  Audio commentary with director John Dahl, stars Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski and writers Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams; 4 Alternate endings; Making-of featurette; Deleted scenes; Theatrical Trailer.

Summary

    My expectations of this film were pretty low, but in the end it was a bit of fun that was enjoyable enough. Usually you cannot expect too much from a film that has changed its name, had a delayed release of over a year and has 5 different endings made for it can you? It has some cool moments and some clichéd ones as well, but in the right frame of mind, you may enjoy Road Kill.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is also very impressive.

    The extras do not exist.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

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