joy ride | john dahl | clay tarver | j.j. abrams | matthew kimbrough | leelee sobieski | steve zahn | paul walker | psychopath | sociopath | kidnap | murder | death | mystery | thriller | united states | ted levine
Film: Joy Ride
Director: John Dahl
Writer: Clay Tarver and J.J. Abrams
Starring: Matthew Kimbrough, Leelee Sobieski and Steve Zahn
This film begins with Paul Walker talking on the phone to his friend, Leelee Sobieski. Walker goes to college in Berkley, California, while she goes to school in Boulder, Colorado. We get from their conversation that Walker has a crush on Sobieski, but she has been seeing someone else. She lets slip that they broke up and she wishes she had a car to drive home or if he had a car so he could get her then drive home. This gives Walker an idea as he looks at his plane ticket.
Walker cashes it in and buys a car. He starts the trek to pick up Sobieski. On his way home, he talks to his sister on the phone and she tells him that their older brother has been picked up for a drunk and disorderly. Walker learns that his brother is in Salt Lake City.
He makes a U-turn and gets pulled over by a Highway Patrol Officer. We learn that he has a busted tail light. Walker bails his brother out of the jail and he is played by Steve Zahn. We see that he is fast talking and gets himself in trouble quite a bit. While they are stopping for gas, Zahn has the mechanic put in a CB radio, without asking his brother.
As they go along, Zahn continues to play with it, learning that there is a storm coming and that there are no cops within forty miles of them. Zahn then gets the idea of having Walker pretend he is a girl, he used to do this as a kid. They talk back and forth over the CB pretending they are meeting up. That is when they hear the voice of someone over the CB with the handle Rusty Nails. The voice is done by Ted Levine. Zahn then convinces Walker to speak with him. Walker doesn’t want to, but reluctantly does. They engage in a borderline racy conversation.
They pull over for the night and it is raining hard at a motel. Zahn goes in to get them a room and there is a man, who is played by Kenneth White, in there who is upset with the service at the motel. He goes off on man running the desk and body-checks Zahn as he leaves. While Zahn is inside, Walker hears Rusty Nails over the CB. Zahn returns and is bothered by the man from the office and hears the voice as well. He comes up with the idea to have Walker talk to him and tell him to meet Candy Cane, the handle for Walker’s female voice. The room number he gives though is for the jerk that shoved Zahn. He asks Rusty Nails to bring pink champagne.
Later that night, they see someone walk past their room. They cut out the lights and turn off the television. They try to hear what is happening, but it is muffled. Walker and Zahn know someone gets hurt and they both think it is Rusty Nails.
The next morning Walker hears Zahn talking to someone outside and he looks out to see it is the police. The officer is played by Michael McCleery. Zahn tries not to slip the story of what happened, but both men are shocked to learn that White, the jerk, is the one in the hospital. Both men are taken to the Flat Rock police station where they meet with the sheriff, played by Jim Beaver. He goes off on them for what they did and takes them to see White. He is in intensive care and is missing his bottom jaw.
Rusty Nails is calling out on the CB to Candy Cane and finally the men respond. They tell him it was a joke and that he shouldn’t have did what he did to the other guy. Rusty Nails doesn’t find it funny and wants an apology. Zahn tells him off and refuses. Rusty Nails tells them they should get their taillight fixed. They stop off to get gas and they see an ICE truck pull in. The driver is played by Satch Huizenga. Walker pays for the gas and they flee, thinking that Huizenga is Rusty Nails.
Huizenga does follow them and reveals that Walker left his credit card at the gas station. Another semi shows up and destroys his truck. He pins them against a tree and Zahn pleads for their lives, saying it was a joke. Rusty Nails pulls away and leaves them.
The next day they meet with Sobieski as well as her future roommate, Jessica Bowman. They hit the road, but the nightmare isn’t over. Zahn and Walker told Rusty Nails there was not girl, now there is one. Bowman is kidnapped and Rusty Nails tells them that they will do what he says or she will die. Can they get Bowman back? Can they get away from Rusty Nails before it is too late? Will they all survive?
I have to say that despite being a B film, this one is actually really good. First off the acting is pretty solid across the board. Zahn is great and adds comedy value. Walker and Sobieski don’t give much range, but they both look terrified throughout. The real star for me is Levine and his creepy voice. The concept is scary as these people are all fairly young and messing around, but they pick the wrong person. It is also scary that for the most part, you do not see who is driving, so the rig is almost the enemy as it is faceless, just a creepy voice. Now my question is though, was Rusty Nails a psychopath before he was messed with, or was it a perfect storm and he is trying to get them back by going too far?
I do have some issues with this film. For one, how did he know about Bowman and that she was friends with Sobieski. I think it would stick out a bit if there was a random Semi just hanging out nearby. I guess it’s possible and no one saw it, but it is a little farfetched. I also want to know how Rusty Nails figured out it was Walker and Zahn to begin with. I guess it is a fair assumption that the room next door would be where the person playing the joke would be, but what if it wasn’t? Rusty Nails guessed right then.
With that said, I will say that this film is very solid. There are quite a few actors that went on to have solid careers after this film. I think the acting was pretty good across the board. The concept of this film is scary and Rusty Nails is a terrifying character. Being voiced by Levine makes it even better. This film does have some minor issues, but none are enough to truly ruin this film. If you have not seen this, I would highly recommend it. It is definitely worth at least a viewing for sure.
My Rating: 8 out of 10