DIRECTOR: Brian Frank Visciglia
Brian Frank Visciglia
Kyle Thomas Schmidt
Valerie Lynn Smith
There is a new app in town. Ryde is an application that allows you to order a driver who will pick you up and drive you to your requested destination. When Paul, a fit, handsome, Emergency Medical Technician goes home with a girl, she hires a Ryde. Little does she realise that she has just brought home a violent serial killer. After he murders her, he employs the same driver. Murdering the driver, he steals his identity. Now with a bevvy of passengers at his disposal, he can drive around and live out his murderous desires.
As someone who frequently uses UBER these days, the irony was not lost on me as I sat and watched Ryde. I just find ride-sharing services much safer and cheaper than that of a Taxi. I hear more stories of taxi drivers who have been charged with raping drunk female and male passengers more than that of news articles relating to serial killer UBER drivers. With the driver's details all there for you before you hop into their car, it feels like a much safer option. That's why I'm a fan of the service.
Ryde takes that very concept and turns it on its head. What happens if the man you pick up is, in fact, a violent serial killer? What happens if he has a car, a fake identity, and a ride-sharing app at his disposal? It would be like a buffet to him. An easy way of securing his victims without him ever having to go out on the hunt. His victims put their trust and life in his hands, and he has an easy way of luring them to their own deaths. A true and scary concept if there ever was one.
After watching Ryde, I was completely torn on what I had just witnessed. On the one hand, I thought the movie was a well-made movie. There is no denying that the film looks gorgeous. On a technical level, I can't really fault it. I assume the movie has a pretty modest budget and for a movie that is mainly set in a car, the film uses the Los Angeles location to great effect. It felt like one of the characters. The movie uses a lot of hypnotic sort of visual queues to show off the city which I thought gave the film a boost in the quality of the production.
On the other hand, this movie is an extremely unpleasant one to sit through. I'm all for dark films about a serial killer who drives around the city, murdering people. But this felt almost cruel and mean-spirited in the depiction of violence towards women. The men get off easy in this film. They are strangled, and that's about it. Women are ferociously stabbed, heads are turned to clumps of matted hair and brain matter from repeated blows to their faces and a head stomping so nasty it almost rivals American History X in brutality.
What the movie does manage to get right is the dynamic between our killer Paul and what some would consider to be the final girl, Jasmine. I enjoyed all of their scenes in the car together. As the movie ramped up to the violent showdown. I thought it was going to be some sort of serendipitous moment and have her be the thing that turns Paul away from being a complete psychopath. He showed signs of being protective of her. Instead, the film doesn't go down that path, and we get a slightly generic slasher type of ending of good vs evil.
I think the biggest issue that this movie will face is that there isn't much of a plot. We don't get any backstory on why Paul likes to kill people or why he is the way he is. We don't have any exposition on anything. We are literally dropped into the middle of this date. A guy takes the girl home. She is murdered, and he assumes the identity of her Ryde driver. The rest is him just murdering various people. There is no real story. Just don't go in expecting a delve into the mind and psychosis of a cold-blooded killer.
The ending of the movie will also be a moment that will either make it or break it for audiences. This is a movie that has one of those conclusions where it's left open for a sequel. After all of the death that Paul rains down on his victims. A sequel to this film seems redundant. They won't be able to call it Ryde 2. It would be a story of a killer hurt and on the run. Who knows, we may get a Devil's Reject styled sequel where we watch a killer trying to evade the cops. They may even make him an anti-hero.
Lastly, we come to the acting. Several of the performances from the supporting cast come across as cheesy. The two central actors David Wachs and Jessica Serfaty who play Paul and Jasmine are the two best performances in the movie. For the first and second act of Ryde. I really enjoyed their dynamic and chemistry. As the movie heads into the third act, the movie lets them go for broke in their final violent showdown. I much preferred the quieter moments between the actors while in the car.
DEATH TOLL: 6
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is ferociously stabbed in the stomach over and over again.
- Someone is choked to death in their car.
- A man's throat is slit as he is strangled to death with a wire.
- A man caves in a woman's head by repeatedly punching into the concrete.
- A woman is drowned in a pool.
- A charred corpse is shown in the morgue.
- A man is headbutted in the nose.
- Head trauma so severe that the head is decapitated when pulled from the body.
- A man is repeatedly punched in the face.
- A man smashes two women's heads together, breaking their noses.
- A man repeatedly stomps on a woman's skull, crushing it.
- A woman's head is smacked against the side of a car.
Ryde is a movie that feels very hit-or-miss for me. On the one hand, we have a rather visually impressive and well-made film for a movie that spends most of its time in a car. The movie is also incredibly violent and has some solid performances from our two leading actors. On the other, we have a film that feels cruel, mean-spirited, and unpleasant. This isn't a fun movie to watch. We also don't get much of a plot and no backstory or exposition on our killer. The film just doesn't quite make it over the line into fresh territory.