Don't stop reading this review just because I gave a Paul Walker movie four stars. I know
it seems ridiculous to acknowledge a movie with Paul Walker as a classic of its genre, but I must. "Joyride" is the
scariest movie that I have ever seen. For those of you who still question the last sentence, I said "'Joyride' is the
scariest movie I have ever seen." Now that we've got the shock over and done with, let us move on to the many merits
of the film in neatly organized paragraphs. First, the familiar dropping of names and basic to moderately elaborate
Paul Walker is college student Lewis Thomas at good ole' College That I Forget the
Name Of. He carries on a long-distance best friendship with gal pal Venna Wilcox (Leelee Sobieski), she at Far Off College.
When she voices a desire for Lewis to get a car and pick her up, he jumps at the chance. He holds up what appears to
be a "Free Car" certificate for the camera, and the next thing we know, he's driving a classic car to pick up his girl.
He plans on picking up his brother and black sheep Fuller (Steve Zahn) from jail, then heading over to Far Off College
Along the way, the car breaks down, and while in repair, the pair picks up a beat up old CB
radio to fool around with. Upon constant goading from wiley Fuller, Lewis impersonates the trucker alias of "Candy
Cane." Miss Cane works her feminine charms on a stereotyped-trucker voice that goes by the name of Rusty Nail.
Mr. Nail is invited to a hotel room to meet Miss Cane, who is said to be in room 17 at midnight. Lewis and Fuller get
the room next door. In reality, room 17 is occupied by a particularly heifery old guy. Laughs are supposed to
roll. Fuller has some. Lewis hears something that catches his ear, sounds of struggle. He phones it in to
the front desk. The next morning, local police are swarming the room outside. Seems like the heifery old guy was
found along the highway with his jaw ripped clean off. The brothers get a stern talking to from the sherriff, then they're
released to meet up with Venna.
Rusty Nail doesn't appreciate the joke. In fact, it infuriates him. Fuller tells
him off. Lewis is wary of the crazy voice coming through the speakers. Rusty Nail informs them he is right behind
Yeah, that's when my heart started raising. It didn't stop until the end of the credits.
"Joyride" is a surprising film not only for the admirable work from Walker, but also for the dismantling of horror movie cliches.
None of the characters behave the way the idiot in most horror movies act. Each one behaves in the manner you would,
heaven forbid, if you happened to be followed by a crazy truck driver bent on killing you.
Rather than capitalizing on early setups for thrills and screams, the film twists and turns
much like the path the poor classic car takes. The scares are earned rather than bought with the usual "quiet-then-sudden
rush-of noise" scares most horror movies employ. The film is genuinely scary and provides what horror films have been
waiting for, another villian that gives you goosebumps.
All the actors turn excellent performances in for director John Dahl ("Rounders"). Zahn,
who was equally as good as the quirky Glenn in "Out of Sight" and Buff in "SubUrbia," has since gone on to cash in starring
in low-concept crude comedies. He shows a flair again for deceptive range. His character is all too stereotypical
until the action picks up. He fleshes out Fuller as a more fully realized character than probably all of te recent horror
Sobieski delivers on her hype, rising and falling from emotion to emotion. When
her tears fall, I was terrified because she was terrified. The typical horror movie chick (likes dark alleyways, wants
to have sex once in a gratuitous manner, tight shirt) is dropped for a more believable female, a damsel in distress,
'tis true, but a believable damsel in distress.
Walker...well...he's actually quite good. I used to acknowledge him as Keanu's
dumber, younger brother. It was a title earned with vacuous performances in "The Fast and the Furious," "Varsity Blues,"
and "The Skulls." Not only was his performance a surprisingly adept one, it was actually the kind of leading man work
that deserves the celebrity he has received for his lesser performances. I credit Dahl for finding whatever
talent lay within Walkers empty head and letting it loose.
It's one thing to say that "Joyride" is the scariest movie I have ever scene (this is the
third time), it's another to say it's also one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. That puts it in more critically
lauded company. It earned its place at the grownups table.