Joy Ride (2001)
Director: John Dahl
Ted Levine/voice of Rusty Nail
Mama’s boy Lewis (Walker) decides to buy a car and drive cross-country to pick up his potential girlfriend Venna (Sobieski). Before picking her up, Lewis has a conscious call and bails his troublemaker brother Fuller (Zahn) out of jail. Fuller winds up tagging along for the ride and he eventually gets his younger bro to prank-call a trucker through a CB. And before you can say "The Hitcher", "Duel" and "Breakdown", the trucker winds up being a psychopath who doesn’t take being laughed at too well and the madman takes our crazy teens through a hellish ride.
Finally, a horror movie with teens that didn’t insult my intelligence or try to sell me a fucking soundtrack. "Joy Ride" brings the “teen horror genre” back from the inanely stupid realm that it’s been living in for while and delivers the goods in a mature way.
Now there’s nothing too original when it comes to this flick. It’s very similar to "The Hitcher", "Duel" or "Breakdown". But in the year 2001, can we call anything original anymore? Rarely. Fortunately, "Joy Ride" takes a familiar premise and competently executes it. The script is tight and the characters are interesting enough, with Zahn stealing the show as the over-enthusiastic immature brother (the guy is all over the place…I loved him!). The suspense sequences are also very well handled (loved the cornfield scene), the film slaps a couple of groovy plot turns our way and the ending had me wiggling in my seat like a schoolgirl. God, it felt great to feel uneasy again while watching a film!
What helped me to get into the flick even more is that throughout it, I had a feeling that two of the main characters (namely Zahn and Sobieski) were up for grabs. I got attached to both of them somewhat and didn’t want either of them to meet their doom at the hands of the whacked-out trucker. That upped the suspense barometer for me and kept my eyes riveted to the screen (especially during the finale). Another great move that the film makes is in NOT showing us the sadistic trucker’s face. For the whole of the movie, the man remains a dark and spooky voice on a CB or a big shadowed figure in the dark (the man’s got huge hands ya'll). That made him a very threatening, unpredictable and mysterious nemesis.
Now the film does have its flaws. First off, the mid-section lacks energy compared to the opening and the closing of the story but admittedly, is never boring. I also suggest that you don’t think too hard about how the trucker seems to know every move our heroes make because it might hurt your noggin. Does this dude work for the FBI or what? He’s on the freaking ball! Another weakness is the Sobieski character who’s kind of bland and is obviously only there to serve the plot or showcase her nipples. More meat on her would have been nice (no, I don’t mean my meat). The film also tosses in a love triangle that never goes anywhere. I would’ve at least liked to have seen one of the dudes score with the broad in some way or other. Come on!
But in the end, I had a real good time with "Joy Ride". It offered me an interesting scenario backed up by gorgeous scenery, effective suspense set pieces, solid comic relief by Zahn and a powerhouse ending. I left the theatre fulfilled and smiling. Hop on this joyride!
A man missing his jaw (ouch) and someone with a spike through his/her leg. The film is not very gory but it does compensate with sheer terror.
At first, Paul Walker’s (Lewis) performance felt kind of awkward but he got better as the movie progressed and in the end, he came through. Steve Zahn (Fuller) easily stole the show with his charming and super-enthusiastic performance. The guy is hilarious! Leelee Sobieski (Venna) doesn’t have much of a part; she’s basically there to be the "chick in peril". Her nipples look great though. Ted Levine (Rusty Nail) has one creepy ass voice…wonderful piece of casting…
T & A
The ladies get a two for one here; both Paul Walker and Steve Zahn get naked and show their white asses (some girls in the audience were foaming out loud). Us dudes have to content ourselves with Sobieski’s nipples in high beam showing through her top in every scene.
Dahl paints a very moody picture here. The film has a very polished look, the camera work is on the money (loved the frame zoom in), the lighting is very atmospheric (loved the red and blue hazes) and Dahl builds his suspense like a champ. I should also add that the cinematography is breathtaking. It perfectly captures the desert landscapes.
A couple of decent rock/blues song and a very moody score that’s used at all the right moments.
"Joy Ride" delivers exactly what its title promises: a joy ride. It moves fast, it’s a lot of fun and the ending is furiously tense. I haven’t felt this nervous during a “cap-off” in ages. Great fucking scene! Of course, the door is left open for a sequel and I for one hope that it happens (I know, shame on me). I want to hear “Rusty Nail” say “Candycane” again…brrr
The film was originally called "Squelch"…"Joy Ride" is a way better title…what does Squelch mean anyway????
They are three endings that exist for this movie.
The film was shot in Arvin, California- Interstate 80, Nevada and Redlands, California, USA.