JOY RIDE came out at a time where teen thrillers and horror films were abundant. A time like that existed kiddies, movies like I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER and SCREAM, are now considered a “Classic Dread” and boy, do I feel old. My long lost love, Paul Walker wasn’t a household name just then. Although he appeared in teen flicks such as SHE’S ALL THAT and VARSITY BLUES, I feel that one of his first thrillers, JOY RIDE, set him apart from these chick flicks.

Rusty Nail: You know, Black Sheep, you really oughtta get that fixed. 

Fuller Thomas: Get what fixed? 

Rusty Nail: Your tail light.

What scared me the most about this film is that I have actual truck drivers in our family. As kids, we would climb into their trucks and talk to other random truck drivers. In this day in age, there would be a 95% chance that you were exchanging giggles with a serial killer or pedophile, and I take my previous comment back, THAT is the scariest thing I think about when talking about this film.

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The synopsis for the film according to IMDB is as follows: Three young people on a road trip from Colorado to New Jersey talk to a trucker on their CB radio, then must escape when he turns out to be a psychotic killer.

However, the villain, Rusty Nail, is almost non-existent but is existent. Does that make sense? Probably not, so follow me.

College student Lewis (Paul Walker) drives across the country to see his crush, Venna (Leelee Sobieski), and by no choice of his own, Lewis’s juvenile delinquent of a brother, Fuller (Steve Zahn) hops into the car for the ride. The car ride is a bore as both brothers seem to have a chip in their shoulders so Fuller suggest they play pranks on horny truck drivers. They pose as “Candy Cane,” a damsel in distress sort to Rusty Nail (Ted Levine) and they get into more than just the annoying sound of static and the blaring of truck horns.

Well, it appears that Rusty Nail is not your average lumber wielding truck driver. He’s a psychopath and through a series of very believable events, he is able to cast his revenge on the trio who find themselves on the path of deathly warfare. Rusty Nail somehow is able to be everywhere, including somehow ending up finding Venna’s roommate and kidnapping her.

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In a series of twists and turns, the ending is not quite what you would think it to be. The film spawned several sequels that hardly gave the original film the justice it deserved. They were merely spat out to piggy back on the success of its predecessor.

The film was written by one of my favorites J.J. Abrams and Chris Moore. That haunting voice of Rusty Nails you hear is none other than Buffalo Bill’s from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, Ted Levine.

The plot itself is tightly woven with the appropriate amount of chills and thrills to be expected from a thriller.  I did find Venna’s character a bit distracting, but, I suppose this feeling geared more towards jealousy. I mean, Paul Walker’s character was totally smitten by her. All in all, this film is a must watch if you are  fan of the genre for that time period. They just don’t make them like they used to.

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