15 February 2007 | drownnnsoda
Scary Road Thriller Somewhat Reminiscent of "The Hitcher".
"Joy Ride" is an extremely entertaining road-set horror/thriller that was surprisingly quite good. The film is about Lewis (Paul Walker), a college coed who decides to buy himself a car and take off across the desert to pick up a would-be-girlfriend, Venna (Leelee Sobieski) in Colorado for a road trip together. He then learns that his older troubled brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn) has been arrested in Salt Lake City, so he picks him up on the way. After having a CB radio installed into the car, the two take off to pick up Venna, but end up pulling a prank on an anonymous trucker who goes by the name of "Rusty Nail" (excellently voiced by Ted Levine) on the CB radio. After the trucker learns about the prank, he attacks the brothers with his large semi, but they manage to escape. But soon after they pick up Venna, the menacing truck driver begins harassing them again, seeking revenge for the joke they decided to play on him - he'll stop at nothing to get it, and he's looking for more than an apology.
Reminiscent of "The Hitcher" in quite a few ways, but also a much different film, "Joy Ride" was a surprise for me. I was expecting something along the lines of your typical teenage-horror fare, and I was pleasantly surprised with this intelligent and heart-pounding little thriller of a film. To start off, the story in itself is very nicely written and manages to avoid clichés. The characters in this film are smart, and the audience is rooting for them the entire way through. There are some excellently orchestrated thrill sequences, one of them being the really intense chase through the cornfield, among others, and these scenes are sure to get you on the edge of your seat.
Tension builds slowly during the first 40 minutes or so, and from there it just goes rampant. The cast is led by Paul Walker, who hasn't accomplished anything too amazing, but manages to lead the film well and play his character believably. Steve Zahn in his quirky and funny older brother, and plays the part suitably. Leelee Sobieski plays the intuitive girl-next-door friend who ends up along for the ride, and she also gives a worthy performance. The psycho-trucker villain of the film is very scary, never really seen - we get to know him through the frightening conversations on the CB radio, where he makes numerous threats and has many disturbing confrontations with the group of friends. Ted Levine, who played the notorious Buffalo Bill in "The Silence of the Lambs" voices the psychopath, and his voice itself is creepy enough, and adds to the villain's overall demeanor. The ending was excellent, and I loved how ominous it was. I really didn't see it coming, and it concluded on a very unnerving note.
Overall, "Joy Ride" is a superior action-filled horror/thriller that came as a big surprise to me. It was intelligent, tense, scary, and very well-written, which was nice because of my semi-low (no pun intended) expectations going into it. People who enjoyed "The Hitcher" will more than likely also enjoy this road trip from hell. Very well done and worth seeing for both horror and thriller fans alike. 8/10.