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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.61%
Worth A Look52.94%
Average: 17.65%
Pretty Bad: 6.86%
Total Crap: 2.94%

7 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Joy Ride
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by Brian McKay

"Get ready for 18 Wheels of Terror, Good Buddy!"
4 stars

It's always a joy to watch a good cross-country-middle-of-nowhere-mindfuck movie, especially since a good one comes along so rarely. Where a movie like "Jeepers Creepers" fumbled the ball, "Joy Ride" recovers it and runs it into the end zone - with a big truck bearing down right on its ass!

Though it starts on shaky ground with a couple of weak contrivances to get the main characters together, the film wastes precious little time getting to the setup for the long ordeal to come. During a college break, long-time friends Lewis (Paul Walker) and Venna (The immaculate Lelee Sobieski) are talking on the phone. Naturally, Lewis has had a crush on Venna forever (and why not, after all, she looks just like Lelee Sobieski), but has kept it to himself - until Venna mentions that she just broke up with her boyfriend, and feels like taking a road trip to clear her head. Lewis immediately runs out to buy a used car and go pick Venna up at her school so that they can finally get some quality time together.

When checking in with his parents from the road, Lewis finds out that his older and much more immature brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn), is in jail in Salt Lake City on a drunk and disorderly charge. Since it's kind of on his way, Lewis decides to swing by and bail the prodigal son out, which ends up being his biggest mistake.

On their way to pick up Venna, Fuller has a CB radio installed in Lewis's car, just for kicks. They immediately begin goofing with the local truck drivers, pretending to be a pair of highway lovers named "Black Bear" (Zhan) and "Candy Cane" (Walker, talking in a fairly unconvincing falsetto voice - but then, a horny trucker with white-line fever would probably jump at anything he could get). Sure enough, a mysterious trucker named "Rusty Nail" starts flirting with Candy Cane. At his brother's urging, Lewis tells rusty nail to meet "her" at a hotel room in the next town. The boys rent the room next door, eagerly awaiting the hijinks that are sure to ensue. When they hear what sounds like a struggle, however, they began to be concerned. The next morning, they are informed by police that their motel neighbor has been found nearly dead out on the highway median.

The brothers get underway again, only to have Rusty Nail chasing after them, pissed off and hell bent on a little payback. He stalks them long enough for them to pick up Venna, then methodically begins serving up a steaming plate of redneck road-rage justice!

This film will undoubtedly be compared to "The Hitcher" or "Breakdown", but it excels over its predecessors by keeping the antagonist unseen and mysterious, a disembodied yet dangerous voice on a radio that keeps the tension and paranoia in high gear. Also, the characters, while admittedly doing some stupid things, don't do the customary stupid horror movie cliche's that we have come to expect. They respond to each new threat as best they can, without going out of the way to put themselves in the line of fire. Venna is an especially refreshing character, since she brings to the situation a bit of take-charge attitude, rather than just being the screaming girly-girl (although I was a little distracted from the whole "being scared" thing by her nipples straining against every T-shirt she wore in every scene). You can almost read in her demeanor, "Look, I don't know what you idiots got me into, but now you're going to do what I say." Steve Zahn does what he does best here, provide comic relief. However, he is also competent at projecting a range of reactions beyond the mere buffoon, and manages to come off as being genuinely frantic or horrified when appropriate. It's a no-brainer that he steals the show, especially from his limp cast-mate Walker.

The film is very well-paced, the story only dragging during a minor sub-plot in which Fuller tries to vie against his brother for Venna's attentions. Rest assured, however, that it doesn't last long before the stalking comes back into full swing. The conclusion, while seeming a bit cliche'd at first glance, is actually satisfying and appropriate.

Let's face it, America's dark and lonely back roads are the prime location for stories about relentless, psychotic stalkers preying on the youth. It's a theme from urban legends and campfire stories that has saturated our culture, and it is refreshing to see it actually done right. "Joy Ride" stays true to the old-school of road psycho movies, following in the footsteps of "Duel" or "Road Games", giving nothing away and reaffirming my resolve to always pack a loaded .45 for those long, cross-country jaunts.

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originally posted: 10/06/01 16:39:32
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User Comments

12/18/10 chaotik tom Absolutly brilliant! Loved every minute! A must see! 5 stars
4/12/09 Dane Youssef Finally! A worthwhile teen thriller! If "Duel" or "Jeepers Creepers" had actually worked! 5 stars
2/02/09 Pankaj Saksena It was a regular American Highway Thriller... but the ending was real confusing 3 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
10/19/07 Total Crap Brutal. The ending was confusing and there should've been a sequel by now. 4 stars
3/28/07 Stanley Thai A suspensful thriller that doesn't insult your intelligence. 4 stars
1/28/07 David Pollastrini great action with a few comedy bits 4 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands No Last Seduction or Kill Me Again, but it passes. 4 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Suspense thriller with all the fun of a road movie 4 stars
6/18/05 Indrid Cold A surprisingly good thriller. This will become one of those forgotten gems. 4 stars
6/21/04 Dick Logan one of the worst films ever made!! Script and acting were pitiful!! 1 stars
6/14/04 Dr. Lecter A nerve-racking little gem of a thriller 4 stars
6/02/04 R.W. Welch Mad trucker flick strains credulity but is still fun. Neatly directed. 4 stars
3/20/04 mans0n really entertaining throughout 4 stars
12/12/03 Jaron more awesome than scary... 4 stars
12/07/03 Micheal One of the greatest thrillers i've probably ever saw! 5 stars
11/04/03 American Slasher Goddess One of the best on the road thrillers in a long time. 4 stars
10/01/03 Samuel Justus A decent little horror film! 4 stars
9/18/03 HUGH not scary not anything 1 stars
9/16/03 Charles Tatum Well done, I could watch Sobieski's Leelees all day long 4 stars
9/14/03 J An addrelidine rush! 4 stars
8/12/03 adrian true funny, scary, likable characters 5 stars
6/20/03 Jenny Tullwartz Unspeakable horror, roadtrip cliches, lame acting, dumb teens - this flick has it all! 3 stars
5/28/03 Scott Howard I Loved it !!! 5 stars
4/25/03 mr. Pink One of the best entertainig and exciting edge-of-your-seat thrillers of the last 5 years 5 stars
3/11/03 me GREAT 5 stars
3/09/03 Jack Sommersby A high-voltage, unnerving thriller. Dahl's command of the medium is admirable. 4 stars
1/23/03 Lisa Blundell A very scary, hide-your-face-behind-a-pillow movie. Very humorous too!! 5 stars
10/08/02 rita WHAT HAPPENED IN THE END?????!!!?? I DONT GET IT 4 stars
10/06/02 John McNew A more effective chiller than 2001 summer's "The Others" 4 stars
9/08/02 gary roberts I really didnt get the end... what happened? anyone care to explain? thanks 4 stars
8/02/02 Matthew Smith gripping from start to finish, a seat gliching thriller 4 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 Reminded me of "Jeepers Creepers". You must see it on DVD... 4 alternate endings! 4 stars
4/19/02 OH BILLY!!!!!!!!!!!! its awsome 5 stars
3/31/02 Film Guy Great Movie. not like other horror movies 5 stars
3/23/02 Andrew Carden Cheap Thrills, Average Performances, Over-Done Ending...Pretty Average Film. 3 stars
3/23/02 The Bomb 69 most thriller films have stupid characters, this one was real and the ending was awesome!! 5 stars
3/20/02 Spyguy2 Makes "The Hitcher" look like Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai"...avoid at all costs. Trust me. 1 stars
3/15/02 NWO4LIFE Entertaining and thrilling, but it played it a little too safe. One of them should've died. 4 stars
3/05/02 Jenny Tullwartz Unspeakable horror, roadtrip cliches, lame acting, dumb teens - this flick has it all! 3 stars
12/25/01 ryan starts out good but quickly turns into crap 2 stars
12/15/01 Flora( I love this movie!Steve and Paul are very sexy!:)) 5 stars
12/03/01 natasha very good worth the time 5 stars
11/29/01 Kelly i'm buyin the video just for that beautiful scene of Paul Walkers ASS! 5 stars
11/21/01 daniboy very enjoyable. scary enough. steve zahn is funny as hell 5 stars
11/02/01 Gay Tooth Fairy lots of fun. Ted Levine has a great villain voice. 4 stars
11/02/01 pipeman Great fun. It deserved to do better at the box office. Look for this movie and see it. 5 stars
10/21/01 Greyjack Very good flick.Steve Zahn kicked ass again. The guy's got two solid movies out this month. 4 stars
10/18/01 Sarah Regelin Awesome movie, it was soo scary Paul Walker is so good looking 5 stars
10/15/01 Schmidty72 100 times better than Jeepers Creepers. If you like "Duel", then you'll like this flick. 4 stars
10/15/01 Geebo A fun movie, very entertaining. 5 stars
10/14/01 specialK good stuff - have to suspend reality for some scenes 4 stars
10/13/01 Black Sheep Eric Snider said it exactly. Unusually level-headed, w/laughs and scares. & Paul Walker =^) 5 stars
10/12/01 Connor Dueck suspensful as hell. if only all new thrillers could be this good 4 stars
10/10/01 GIBBO A great romp - more funny than suspenseful - but a great movie all the same. 4 stars
10/07/01 Chuck and Fran All the characters reactions in the movie were believable. Comparable to "Duel" by Spielber 4 stars
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  05-Oct-2001 (R)



Directed by
  John Dahl

Written by
  Clay Tarver
  Jeffrey Abrams

  Leelee Sobieski
  Steve Zahn
  Matthew Kimbrough
  Brien Varady
  Paul Walker
  Jim Beaver

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