In JOY RIDE, directed with a wicked sense of comedic horror by John Dahl
(ROUNDERS and THE LAST SEDUCTION), you'll be jumping, laughing and jumping
again. No horror movie spoof, this is the genuine article, which, until the
last act, mainly uses the threats of violence and the anticipation of horror
to frighten. And frighten it does quite effectively and chillingly.
JOY RIDE also amuses, thanks to Clay Tarver and Jeffrey Abrams's carefully
developed script and to Steve Zahn's (HAPPY, TEXAS) infectious brand of
humor. When you're not laughing, you'll probably be squeezing the hand of
the person next to you. It's a good way to bond with a stranger in the
dark. On second thought, be sure to go with someone you know well.
It all starts off innocently enough as Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker, THE FAST
AND THE FURIOUS) is off to pick up his friend, Venna (Leelee Sobieski, THE
GLASS HOUSE), from college in Colorado and drive her to her home in New
Jersey. Before he picks her up, he makes a side trip to pick up his wastrel
brother, Fuller (Zahn), who is just getting out of jail, again.
While by themselves, the brothers get involved in a juvenile prank over the
CB in Lewis's junker, a 1971 Chrysler Newport. With CB handles of Mom's Boy
(Fuller) and Candy Cane (Lewis using a girl's voice), they lure a gruff
sounding trucker with the ominous handle of "Rusty Nail" to a motel to meet
Candy Cane. From that point on, very bad things keep almost happening and a
few really bad things do occur. Sometimes you can see trouble brewing --
roads labeled "Dead End" and fields of tall corn are definite giveaways --
and other times danger comes completely out of the blue.
Until the last part, the terror is interspersed nicely with some perfectly
timed humor. "You guys okay to get back to the main road?" asks one
friendly stranger whom they had originally assumed to be Mr. Nail. "Sure,
now that we're not dead," Fuller jokes back, while still shaking in his
boots from their near death experience. The funniest scene comes when
Fuller demonstrates just the right technique to diffuse a brewing bar battle
with a group of hostile rednecks.
JOY RIDE is funny, frightening and fabulously fun. And it's all made quite
plausible. One thing is certain, kids who see it will probably never be
tempted to pull a prank on a stranger. And, if you see cars on the highway
steering clear of 18-wheelers, you can probably assume that they've recently
seen JOY RIDE.
JOY RIDE runs 1:36. It is rated R for "violence/terror and language" and
would be acceptable for most teenagers.
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes