College freshman Lewis Thomas embarks upon a cross-country
road trip to pick up the girl of his dreams, Vanna. But he
also feels obliged to bail his older brother Fuller out of
jail on the way. When Fuller goads Lewis into playing a practical
joke using a CB radio, they incite the terrifying wrath of
a trucker known only as "Rusty Nail"...
Roadkill might best be described as Duel meets
Scream, since the demon trucker in this instance has
a trademark sinister voice, which is heard over the CB radio
that Fuller (Steve Zahn) installs. "Rusty Nail" is almost
a supernatural figure, rather like Michael Myers in the Halloween
movies, possessing an uncanny and unnerving ability to turn
up out of the blue to terrorise the hapless teenagers. Like
the trucker in Duel, we see very little of "Rusty"
outside of his menacing vehicle, whose searchlights seem like
the eyes of some great behemoth.
fact, I don't actually recall seeing as much of "Rusty Nail"
when I saw this film at the cinema as we do during this rental
release. Perhaps the picture contrast was reduced during its
transfer from celluloid to video.
structure of John (Red Rock West) Dahl's movie allows
us a few moments of respite in the very middle of the narrative,
like the calm in the eye of a storm, before the director cranks
up the tension once again. There are plenty of lighter moments,
most of which involve the wayward Fuller (splendidly played
by Zahn), such as when he attempts to seduce Vanna (Leelee
Sobieski) while Lewis (Paul Walker) is asleep.
screenplay by Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams (creator of the
series Alias) acknowledges the "rules" of the horror
genre (for example, that characters of dubious morality tend
to be placed in the greatest danger), but also plays with
and circumvents those conventions to great effect. There's
nothing rusty about this well-oiled machine, and this suspenseful
movie will drive you to distraction.