Teen horror hits the road in Joy Ride, a movie that has been sitting in the garage for the last two years. Originally and horribly titled Squelch, Joy Ride tries to break the trend that shelved movies generally suck, and succeeds wonderfully.
The Fast and the Furious' Paul Walker and Saving Silverman's Steve Zahn star as brothers on a road trip who, after playing a mean practical joke over the CB radio, become the focus of a psychotic trucker. Things get worse when they pick up Deep Impact's Leelee Sobieski, who makes the guy go even crazier.
The plot is simple, but Joy Ride plays out wonderfully from beginning to end, keeping the audience on the edge of their seat the entire time. From the moment the hotel tenant's jaw is ripped off (yes, ripped off) to the last sweat-drawing second, Joy Ride provides thrills, spills, and tons of suspense, the likes of which I haven't seen in a movie in a long time.
Going into the movie, I was thinking that Joy Ride was going to be a teen thriller. Teen thrillers are usually not as intricate as adult thrillers (see Antitrust), but can still be entertaining. Luckily, Joy Ride is a lot more mature than the previews suggest; it has a pretty good script, lots of twists, and a smart and realistic story. Joy Ride never leaves the boundaries of realism like most horror movies do, and, for the most part, it doesn't even step into the teen slasher genre. Instead, you never really get to see the killer (but you do get to hear his creepy voice), and the suspense is dealt through gripping scenes where you know the deadly truck is lurking somewhere in the darkness nearby.
The ending is especially well done. Not for one moment did I know how it was going to end, and every second is knuckle-biting. The ending is smart, scary, and suspenseful, and that says it all.
Joy Ride is surprisingly one of the better movies of the year, being a lot smarter than surface suggests. Expect some frightful material, and make sure you don't use a CB radio.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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