The world of car racing is already dangerous enough, with the ever present fear of getting into an accident while competing on the track. When something as seemingly trivial as a Rusty Nail is thrown into the car racing equation, people don’t often ponder the effects it can have on the competition’s outcome. But initial looks can be deceiving, which is clearly evident with the return of villain Rusty Nail in 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s upcoming thriller, ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill.’
Written and directed by horror filmmaker, Declan O’Brien, ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill,’ the second sequel in the hit ‘Joy Ride’ franchise, brought back the mysterious villain when it debuted on digital HD June 3, and when it’s released on Blu-ray and DVD this Tuesday, June 17. Shockya was generously given the opportunity to visit the follow-up’s set for two days last September in Winnipeg, Canada.
‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ follows Rusty Nail (Ken Kirzinger), who is back on the road again, looking to punish injustice at every turn. This time, he’s targeting a group of hotheaded street racers on their way to the Road Rally 1000. As the young friends drive through a desolate shortcut on the way to the race, an encounter with Rusty turns sour and soon he is tracking, teasing and torturing them until the end of the road. The horror sequel also stars Jesse Hutch as Jordan Wells, Ben Hollingsworth as Mickey Cole, Kirsten Prout as Jewel McCaul, Gianpaolo Venuta as Austin Moore, Jake Manley as Bobby Crow and Leela Savasta and Alisa Rosado.
Kicking off the third and final week of shooting on Thursday, September 19, 2013, the first night Shockya watched the action unfold on the ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ set, O’Brien assembled select cast and crew members at the Kachur Sand and Gravel pit off Garven Road in the Birds Hill area of Winnipeg. The rolling hills of sand, which are illuminated by the white light of the moon, serve as the menacing backdrop for one of Rusty’s harrowing acts of retaliation. The gruelling act of vengeance cleverly utilizes the hydraulic jack of the killer’s signature truck, which in itself is another destructive character that also brings terror to Rusty’s victims.
O’Brien generously took the time to discuss his process of making the second sequel in the beloved series during an exclusive interview in between setting up the stunts the Kachur Sand and Gravel pit. He first became involved in writing and directing ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ after he was contacted by FOX, and the studio’s executives began discussing making another film in the series with him. After watching the first two films in the franchise, the filmmaker thought Rusty Nail was an interesting villain to explore. “I like the psychology of the character, and I wanted to explore it a little bit more,” the scribe-helmer said. “So I pitched FOX an idea for this sequel, and they seemed to like it, and I went off to write the script.”
The filmmaker previously made a name for himself in the horror genre by directing ‘Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead,’ and also helming and writing that franchise’s two prequels, ‘Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings’ and ‘Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines.’ After finding success with that series, O’Brien admitted that continuously creating unique ways to kill his characters has become the hardest part of making films.
“I wanted to come up with new ways of killing people (for ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’), and I wanted to keep it thematically the same,” O’Brien added about tying the murders to the car and racing themes. “If you have all the kills automotive related because you’re doing a road movie that has cars in it, you can tie them all together.”
While O’Brien justifiably wanted to infuse ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ with creative, original and captivating stunts, the writer-director also graciously acknowledged there was one actor who did influence his decision to incorporate the racing element into the story-the late Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident about two months after the filming of the series’ second sequel. The actor starred in the franchise’s first film, 2001’s ‘Joy Ride,’ which was theatrically released four months after his career-defining role in ‘The Fast and the Furious.’ The filmmaker further explained his reasoning: “Since (Walker) became a huge star in (‘The Fast and the Furious’) franchise, which has been tremendously successful, I figured why not bring some of that to the Rusty Nail world?”
So to integrate that driving element into ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill,’ O’Brien decided to make the vicitims rally racers. The drivers are “on their way to a race and they run into Rusty Nail. That way I got a little more car and road action, and increased the action and road aspects of it. We made all the automotive related, and that seemed to be a good mix,” he added.
Since O’Brien felt Walker was such an important element of making ‘Joy Ride’ successful, he wanted to make sure he found the right actors to fill the roles in the second follow-up. He admitted the casting process was long, and between 300 and 400 actors auditioned for the various roles. Everyone, except for Kirzinger, was found through the audition process, the director added, and he “cast based on the actors who felt right for the parts.” The one actor he pursued for the film was Kirzinger. The performer also made a name for himself in the horror genre, most notably by playing Jason Voorhees in 2003’s ‘Freddy vs. Jason.’ “I knew I wanted Ken from the very beginning, so I pursued him,” O’Brien added.
The helmer further extended his praise for Kirzinger by calling him “such a professional, (who) has had about 30 years of experience in the movie business, having been a stunt man, a stunt coordinator and an actor. He knows the horror genre, so he knows what I’m doing, and we have a shorthand. He’s a lovely person and great to work with.”
Prout, who was also on the set at the Kachur Sand and Gravel pit, expressed her admiration for Kirzinger as well during an exclusive interview between her takes. As the actor serendipitously stepped into the tent during the actress’ interview as she was about to discuss her working relationships with her co-stars on the set, she exclaimed, “Now I’m on the spot!” Kirzinger played along, laughing as he covered his ears and said, “I won’t listen!”
But Prout had nothing but praise for her co-star, as she appreciated the fact that he brought a sympathetic aspect to the role of Rusty Nail. She also enjoyed that he brought a gentlemanly aspect to the character’s voice, “which is another terrifying thing about Rusty Nail, and I think that’s what makes him so great.” The actress also revealed that she finds it fascinating that Rusty is such a vulnerable character when he’s first introduced to the other characters.
Furthermore, Prout admired that her co-star also made the villain interesting and menacing, which she feels he “brought from his own experience from playing Jason. But he’s not overly threatening; he sounds like a guy who would have a beer with you at the local bar. Ken’s also brought this element of superhuman strength to this aspect of the franchise that really makes it interesting.”
Venuta, who also gave an exclusive interview in between his takes at the Kachur Sand and Gravel pit, also expressed his admiration for Kirzinger’s acting. After filming with Kirzinger the day before, on September 18, Venuta felt his co-star brought an originality and humanity to Rusty Nail. Since the villain had a bigger on-screen presence in ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ than in the original film, Venuta felt Kirzinger’s “portrayal of Rusty is very grounded, scary, mercurial and frightening.”
Prout and Venuta revealed their admiration for Kirzinger and his portrayal of Rusty as the three were on the set to film a scene together. In their sequence, Jewel and Austin get a flat tire as they drive down Highway 17, and they begin texting for help. The two encounter trouble as Rusty’s tuck lights blast on their car from behind, and he threatens them on the CB that they shouldn’t text and drive.
Jewel and Austin decided to drive together to the race, but follow their friends as they take a shortcut. Prout, who described Jewel as “a tuner girl and cheerleader on the team,” laughed as she said that “everyone knows taking a shortcut is a really bad idea idea. Soon into our shortcut, we bump into Rusty Nail.”
Jewel and Austin’s drive on Highway 17 leads into the second scene Shockya was generously able to watch. On Friday, September 20, O’Brien and the crew began filming the 15th day of the 20-day shoot at an Esso Station on Highway 59 in Winnipeg. Jewel and Austin meet Jordon, Mickey, Bobby and Alisa at an eerily abandoned gas station in the middle of menacing fields to discuss their next route of action.
The sequence, which O’Brien shot in his signature chilling and ominous nature, was part of the reason Prout was happy to sign on to play Jewel. The actress was initially attracted to the role after she received a call from her agent, who had another client who worked with O’Brien on one of the ‘Wrong Turn’ sequels. Her agent told Prout that his other client had a fun time working on ‘Wrong Turn’ with O’Brien. Combined with the gore and action that was promised to be included in ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill,’ she was eager to play Jewel and work with the filmmaker. She was happy with her decision, in part because she felt the kills he created turned out to be “really awesome.”
While Prout wasn’t able to reveal the full extent of the action sequences and stunts she was involved with, she did admit that she “had a lot of body prosthetic casts made.” She added that the process is both interesting and terrifying, because “I had to be covered in goo, except for my nostrils. I got covered in a paste, and then was wrapped and bandaged.”
The actress also felt that watching her prosthetic casts “being dressed with blood is also terrifying. For a lot of the stunts, we can’t actually use humans. So it’s great that we get to just sit back and watch.”
Prout also laughed when revealing O’Brien’s catchphrase while shooting is “More blood! More blood on her face! More blood on her hands!” The actress added that sentiment is great because it means O’Brien “has a visual idea of what he wants to see on the screen, and he’s not afraid to get it. He’ll use prosthetics and every trick in the book, especially as much blood as humanly possible.”
Prout also reveled in the fact that she was able to make another horror film with ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill,’ after appearing in the genre with such projects as the MTV movies, ‘My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 2’ and ‘My Super Psycho Sweet 16: Part 3.’ She loves the genre because not only can the actors play with both comedy and drama, but the stakes are always incredibly high with their performances. “Every day we have to fight for our lives. We also get to be a little tongue-in-check sometimes,” the actress also explained.
“I love horror because you never know what to expect when you’re coming onto a set,” Prout also said. She thinks it’s a really fun process to figure that out dynamic out while filming, which is why she loves making horror movies. “I have the most fun doing horror films, because we can play around. So in the future, I plan to do many more,” she added.
Hollingsworth also generously took the time to discuss portraying Mickey after filming a sequence with Kirzinger at the Kachur Sand and Gravel pit. The actor also experienced his excitement over appearing in another horror film, after playing Ben Ratner in the 2010 movie, ‘A Flesh Offering.’ Since ‘Joy Ride’ was the first movie he saw in a drive-in theater, and having that acting eexperience in the genre, Hollingsworth said, “I find horror to be fun. But it’s a fair balance trying to find the right one, as there are a lot of clichéd horror films that can go down the wrong road, so to speak,” he laughed.
The actor added that the ‘Joy Ride’ series is a fun franchise “because of the Rusty Nail character, and the truck itself. It’s just as lethal, and almost just as much of a villain, as Rusty Nail.” Hollingsworth also emphasized the frightening nature of Rusty’s physical and emotional demeanor throughout the film, but was also quick to praise Kirzinger. He described his co-star as being “a really nice guy and a terrific actor.”
Hutch also generously took the time to give Shockya an exclusive interview before he began filming at the Esso Station. The actor, whose ‘Freddy vs. Jason’ character, Trey, was killed by Kirzinger’s Jason Voorhees in the horror sequel, also praised their co-star who drives the action and scares in ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kil.’ Kerzinger’s “a very large man, and he’s the kind of guy who you don’t want to punch you in the head,” Hutch joked. But the actor insisted that Kirzinger is “so nice that I can’t picture him punching anyone in the head, but you don’t want to take any chances…Ken is awesome. He’s a stunt guy and he’s got the acting capabilities.”
While Kerzinger has made a name for himself as an actor and stuntman in the horror genre, Venuta made his horror movie debut with ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill.’ The actor discussed how he was drawn to appearing in the follow-up because he felt many of the death scenes were so gruesome and shocking. He was also intrigued that Austin always takes everything very seriously, and is also “a bit of a chauvinist.” But the actor feels his character also “has a lot of redeeming qualities at the same time. He’s really good at what he does, which is driving. He binds the group together, and keeps them on the task at hand.”
The actor also felt the cast, who arrived to Winnipeg around the same time, naturally bonded as they discussed their characters’ relationships before they began filming. “We tried to delve a little deeper than what was written on the page, so we could understand the friendships and dynamics between everyone. That happens naturally when you arrive on set,” Venuta said.
Venuta also revealed that the majority of the chemistry between the cast did form on the days they began working and filming together. “When you do a scene with someone, you realize what they’re bringing to their role. Then you play off that person,” he said.
For example, the actor pointed to the fact it wasn’t written that everyone picks on Manley’s character, Bobby, who’s the youngest guy of the group. “That dynamic became established on the first day because he’s the young guy, and we tease him a lot,” Venuta added.
O’Brien added they did have time to do a cast read through of the script before they began filming, but didn’t have an extended time to rehearse, due to the movie’s short shooting schedule. “Since I wrote the film as well, when we went through the read through with each cast member, we talked about their characters. We talked about what we would change, and what worked,” the filmmaker said. “Once you hear what’s working and what’s not, that’s helpful. Each actor did spend time with me, and we discussed and changed things in the script.
The director finds it easier to write the scripts for the movies he helms. “When you’re writing a script for yourself that you know you’re directing, you can put so much more detail into the script, down to the camera angles,” he explained. When penning a screenplay he knows he’s going to direct, he appreciates that he can pre-visualize everything he wants, and thoroughly write what he’s imagining in the story.
Penning everything he envisions incorporating into the plot “makes the visuals very clear for other people who are reading it,” O’Brien said. “Consequently, it makes it easier as a director as you’re directing, because you have such specifics on the page. That communicates your ideas to all the departments and the crew better. It’s a much more enjoyable experience.”
Venuta and Prout agreed that the chemistry on the set was naturally created in part under the directorial eye of O’Brien, who they both enjoyed working with on the set. While Venuta had never worked with the filmmaker before and didn’t know what to expect from him, he found the helmer to be a joy to shoot with. “It’s a gig I’ll never forget,” the actor said.
Since O’Brien’s “the writer, as well as the director, he’s really open to dialogue changes. If the actor comes up with something different, or something that feels more natural, he’s completely open to having his actors change the dialogue,” Venuta admirably explained. The actor appreciated how the filmmaker had a balance of being focused, funny and serious on the set.
Prout echoed her co-star’s sentiment, saying the filmmaker “knows exactly what he wants from his actors, which is always great to work with.” She agreed with O’Brien’s sentiment about how him writing the script helped keep him focused on what he wanted as a director while they were filming. “So in shots, we’ll know, for example, that he wants the actors’ hair to be blown out, and he’ll communicate that to the hair department. There aren’t any crossed wires,” she said.
The actress also liked the fact that the helmer knew “exactly how he wants the kills to look, and how the characters should be reacting-he has everything visually mapped out in this head.” Prout feels that makes it easier for everyone on the set to communicate to O’Brien what they’re visualizing as they’re about to film a scene. She also thinks the fact that he visually knows what he wants, but also allows the cast and crew to collaborate together, allows him to do a stunning job while directing.
Prout also reiterated O’Brien’s sentiment that the first film in the series influenced the making of ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill.’ “The first film was the most influential on me, particularly on how I’m approaching this project. I liked the dynamic over the radio. I was also interested in Rusty’s origin,” she explained. She also revealed that the original movie helped her visualize how Rusty was going to psychologically torment Jewel and her friends throughout their road trip.
But Venuta felt their new film in the ‘Joy Ride’ series “is completely separate from the other two. I think it’s a completely new take on Rusty. He does have a more physical presence, but that’s not to say that he’s completely there on screen.” But he does enjoy the fact that all three movies in the franchise “leave a lot to the audience’s imagination. I think that’s what’s so great about the series-you have to paint that figure for yourself in your mind.”
Part of the appeal of the ‘Joy Ride’ series to many horror and thriller fans is the devastating emotional damage, as well as the enticing kills, the enthralling and unique villain Rusty Nail inflicts on his impromptu victims. While the psychological trauma he unleashes on his targets is just as shocking as the ways he murders them, which inadvertently pushes the friends apart at times, the cast and crew of ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ undoubtedly became close while filming in Winnipeg. Despite the murder and mayhem that shockingly fueled the horror thriller’s plot, the actors and O’Brien undeniably admired each other’s work and ideas on the set.
Watch our exclusive video featuring interviews with the cast of, and check out photos from the Winnipeg set of, ‘Joy Ride 3: Road Kill’ below.
Written by: Karen Benardello