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Joy Ride (2001)

Directed by John Dahl Written by Clay Tarver & J.J. Abrams

  Lewis (Paul Walker) is prepared to make his way home after Freshmen year from Berkeley when catching up with long time friend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) over the phone. Hearing of her having recently broken up with her boyfriend and the thought of them driving back home together seeming as only a silly notion. Though the thought alone perks up Lewis’s ears as he exclaims in having just gotten a car; selling his plane ticket in order to purchase one (that must have been one expensive ticket). The real catch being that after letting his mother know, soon finding that he would have to pick up his older brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) who had been arrested, once again. Once released Fuller spends 40 dollars on a CV radio that seemed like wasted money to Lewis but surly having their fun at first.

  That is, until they hear a particular voice striking their interest. Fuller begs his brother to fake a girl’s voice and use the CV name Candy Cane. Their intention being to have some fun with the truckers. Hesitantly going along with, Lewis begins a conversation with Rusty Nail as they soon lose connection and they think nothing of the small encounter. While Fuller later checks into a motel, a familiar voice beckons to speak with Candy Cane once again. What happens next was simply a way for them to be cruel to a complete stranger and feel justified to get away with it. Fuller convinces Lewis to tell Rusty Nail of the same motel they were located at (clearly never seeing a horror movie in his life) and to visit at midnight with a bottle of pink champagne. The kicker being that the room they gave belonged to the irate customer that gave Fuller attitude and checked him before exiting the main office. Later that night while watching TV they hear the sounds of the rig approaching as he makes his way to the room. What follows however is the sound of something having gone awry.

  The next morning they find the police outside as they’re questioned about the night’s events and whether they had heard any strange noises coming from next door. The victim had been found face down on the highway medium with his bottom jaw torn off. Unsure of where to even begin, the cops tell the two to get out of their state and it would be as though right out of an old fashioned western (Because that’s usually what happens). On the highway later, they hear Rusty Nail asking if anyone had heard from Candy Cane. Lewis insist on just apologizing though Fuller sees it a bit differently; as though he truly held the most power with the volume knob. Paranoia takes over as the two become suspicious of the first trucker they see while stopping for gas, leaving immediately and driving straight into a Dead End. Terror reaches an all time high as their followed by the trucker who catches up with them, stepping up to the driver window to display the MasterCard Lewis had left at the counter, whew. Glancing back they see the actual trucker following them having smashed straight through the ICE truck to make his way past. His intimidation skills (obviously up to par) succeed as he chases them down when their car stalls and forces their vehicle against a tree. Fuller, finally shouting over the CV his apology of which Rusty Nail had only expected. Leaving without another word they make their way to Venna. Ending the night at a local bar out in Nebraska, the three using the time to unwind. Another almost encounter (they can’t stay away from trouble) ends with Fuller butting in, not willing to deal with anymore excitement then already had. (It was too funny a scene after what they had already encountered, so it is down below; audio is a bit loud so be careful!)

  After having some fun the three retire to their rooms as Fuller tries to make the moves on Venna, knowing full well Lewis’s intentions. Woken out of his drunken slumber, Lewis receives a call from Rusty who says he thought they had claimed no girl was with them. Almost shooting out of bed and rushing to her room to share how the trucker wanted to know what she was doing with Fuller. In fact, he was curious of the same damn thing. It seems that not even throwing out the CV was enough to get this guy to leave them alone. Spastically speaking on the manner, Fuller takes notice to the several road signs with a spray painted message; Look in the trunk Lewis. “That’s a pretty elaborate thing to do, paint those signs,” yes it is Leelee, indeed. Finding the radio they had thrown out and hooking it back up, they agree to not say anything and just let him talk. Unfortunately losing all say in the matter as it seems Venna’s friend Charlotte had been kidnapped and her cries could be heard in the background. Succumbing to this stranger with unforeseen power, their forced to wait until morning as instructed to wait at the state line, truck stop parking lot.

  That next morning he tells the two to go inside the diner and order 6 hamburgers each, naked. While they go inside, he explains to her that now, they too could feel the level of embarrassment he did while standing in the rain with the bottle of champagne. Entrusting Venna with his next instructions, the three head out to the middle of a cornfield and grudgingly make 100 steps out in the open as their chased by the trucker, unrelenting. Stopping suddenly, beginning to venture out in the fields, grabbing Venna who had separated from the guys; amateur. It’s the fire set to the car that catches their attention as the screams of Venna can be heard from the CV inside. Left with the same proposition given to him via “Candy Cane” the two set off, forced to steal a car as they race the clock to midnight in search of room #17 at a motel. Though once getting to that next town discovering a street filled with them and they lose a slither of hope but continue to press forth.

  Meanwhile, a trap is set for the brothers in which Venna is tied up in front of the door with a shotgun ever so strategically placed to go off if the door should open. They make their way to the last motel and enter the wrong door, yet receive a phone call. With Lewis on the phone, he motions for Fuller to go out back as he’s sure of the psycho being in the room next to them. His attempt to sneak around however ends with him being the one surprised as he’s pulled through the window and barely able to fidget away. Shouting at Lewis to not open the door and injured in the process, Fuller almost becomes victim to the trucker when the police show up. (Rusty Nail having called them) Ever so kind right? They find the manager laid out in the office and begin busting through every door with their proximity looming. Lewis is torn between rushing to help Venna before the cops bust down the door and helping his brother left out in the open with the trucker having no intention of stopping. A near escape leaves the three shaken yet thankful to have come out the victor having as well found Charlotte still alive. Inquiring as to who the trucker had been the police say it was just been some ICE driver from another state. Their heads perk up as they hear the familiar tone from the ambulance’s CV commenting on the rain and how nice it was, it kept everyone in, washed everything out. Fade to black.

  The movie makes for a great first watch. Though I wouldn’t say it held up after a certain period of time, only because after seeing it several times it becomes more humorous than maintaining the initial scare factor. It falls into a very popular category and fell in suit with other thrillers around the time. Entirely too many examples. I greatly enjoyed Steve Zahn, as I most often do. He doesn’t have to try to be funny because he is, and he played scared very convincingly and hey! I guess I didn’t mind getting to see his ass either, so sue me. This was pre Fast and Furious days (they were made in the same year so I consider it as such). But, he had a great “15 minutes” though I’d venture and say great hour 😀 Sobieski belongs in Dramas, which is in no way a bad thing. She brings great emotion forth whenever able but is too classy for her own good. That’s why you don’t see her in many comedies and not starring in any action/thrillers…anymore at least. Rusty Nail was played by two different people; Ted Levine (voice) and Matthew Kimbrough (person). They had two other’s try for the voice of Rusty of which Eric Roberts was one of. Though certainly a second favorite; what better choice than Buffalo Bill? A fantastic voice that was perfect for this type of thriller. Though, I wouldn’t have minded having seen him be the persona entirely.