Wonder Reviews
Joyride ****
Early Oscar Wish List 2003
Movie Quotes You Forgot Were Awesome
2002 Top Ten
2002 Oscar Wish List
2003 Oscar WIsh List
Movies That Suck
All Time Favorite Movies
Favorite Links
Contact Me
Current Reviews
Critic Mumbo Jumbo
People you Should Know
Cool List

Starring Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski
Directed by John Dahl

Walker and Zahn run wild in the scariest crop of corn since "Signs"

     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 plot description.
     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 for Venna.
     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 them.
     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 films.
     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. 

errors in grammar due to site builder limitations