Film Review: Ryde

A killer hijacks an LA ride-service car and begins killing passengers in this stylish but formulaic thriller.
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Nice nurse Jasmine (Jessica Michél) and her jerk boyfriend, Marcus (Ronnie Alvarez), are embarking on a busy night out: first her best friend's birthday party, then a second bash one of his pals. So they use the popular Ryde app and are picked up by an affable young driver named Karl (Kyle Schmidt). Unfortunately for Karl, after he drops them off he picks up Paul (David Wachs), a straight-up psycho killer who murders him and takes his car. Let the mayhem commence!

Working from a tight screenplay co-written with Kat Silvia and editor Dustin Frost, director/producer Brian Frank Visciglia's first feature is sleek, handsomely photographed by Dawid Rymar and powered by a genuinely creepy performance from producer Wachs. Baby-faced and buffed to a high gloss, he's a striking presence whose formidable build is offset by his boyish face and soft voice. And equipping him with a ride app is a timely solution to the problem of explaining why women get into his anonymous car without a second thought. The industry is built on the model of convenience and the expectation of safety—it’s like a taking a taxi, except that the cars are nicer and the driver comes when called.

That said, once predatory Paul settles into his newfound routine, an inevitable sameness sets in: scantily-clad party girls get into the car and don't get out, at least not under their own steam. It's possible that that there's a hint of a motive in the fact that, with the exception of Jasmine, Paul's passengers are uniformly loud, rude, drunk and/or high (the bridezilla is especially grating). It’s more motive than some movie slashers and less than others… interested viewers may one day get a chance to find out. Those viewers are likely to be longtime fans of stalk-and-slash pictures, because for all its visual gloss, Ryde is too by the numbers to reach far beyond its obvious market.

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