Joy Ride - Roadkill
Dir: John Dahl
Star: Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Leelee Sobieski, Ted Levine (voice)
Cert / Year: 15 - R / 2001
Format: DVD R1

Lewis (Paul Walker) has been Venna's (Leelee Sobieski) friend all through childhood although for him it has always been more than just friendship. His chance comes when he agrees to pick her up from college and for them to drive the hundreds of mile home. Things do not go to plan, for as soon as he sets off he is diverted to bail out from prison his wayward brother Fuller (Steve Zahn). They set off again and Fuller instals a CB in the car. To pass the time they decide to play a CB prank on a lonely trucker (CB Handle Rusty Nail), setting him up on a spurious date. However the prank backfires badly. Now the trucker decides that he must have his revenge, at any cost...

This years DVD releases so far have been a big improvement over last year, and things just keep getting better with Joy Ride. Last week I reviewed the brilliantly original thriller Memento, this week we another thriller all be it one of a very different kind. Ok so its not original, but it is well written and really exciting stuff. This isn't as serious or as film noir as Memento but it is high octane thrills and chills.

The script is just brilliant. Ok so the start is a bit lame but as soon as the CB is installed things really kick off, because this introduces our bad guy 'Rusty Nail' and he sounds like one genuinely scary guy. I say sounds because (taking a leaf out of Alien's book) we don't ever get to see him clearly. This is a great and really quite brave idea. Quite often the impact of a film is lost the first time we get to see the bad guy as he never is as scary as we imagine, but it is a fine tightrope to walk as you may end up with a bad guy with no character. This film walks the tightrope perfectly we have the haunting voice of Ted Levine to provide the character and the chillingly manipulative actions to build the tension.

Tension is key and some lovely plot twists really build this up. Ok so some of the plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but this just gives the psycho an almost supernatural quality (a bit like Jeepers Creepers without the daft monster reveal). Add to this a great sense of humour and some good one liners and you have something eminently quotable. This is just destined to join the Hitcher as a cult thriller classic.

This film is not only about tension though once the action begins it never takes it foot off the accelerator. From the shocks of the painted road signs to the great (if not a little cliched) chase through the cornfield. There are loads of car chases and trucks crashing through things that ensure the film is not only chilling but an action packed ride. The road signs are woth a further mention as they are cleverly used throughout the film to link the scenes together, and tied in with the road theme this is a unusual and neat idea.

The cast are variable. Ted Levine’s voice performance is superb and perfect for the role (thank heavens that Eric Roberts didn't get the job), but on screen the star of the show is Steve Zahn. He as Fuller he provides a lot comedy and really livens things up. Leelee Sobieski adds the glamour, Ok she don't have a lot to do other than look good and she only appears half way through the film, but despite this she is fine in what she is asked to do. Paul Walker is strangely un-involving as Lewis. He is a bit of a wet blanket, and this doesn't quite work as half the time you want Venna to get off with Fuller instead of him.

Ok this isn't the most original thriller in the world, but it is great fun and is well made. It has a good story and a good bad guy. It's action packed and overall it's one well worth watching. Some of the acting is a little variable and you might spot the odd plot twist but this is really one chilling journey. If it doesn't but you off ever using a CB then nothing will, as this is one ride you'll never forget.


Rusty Nail: Candy Cane... Candy Cane c'mon..... Anyone out there know Candy Cane.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Good but not perfect it is slightly grainy.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Pretty good, but the mix is not well handled. The key stormy night scene highlights this.
Features Facinating 29 minute alternative ending
Two other shorter alternative endings
A fourth storyboard only alternative ending
An option to banch these endings back into the movie
A scene viewed with three alternative actors reading for Rusty Nail. Including the awdul Eric Roberts version.
3 Commentary tracks from various cast a crew
One other deleted scene
Short making of featurette
Verdict Good transfer despite concerns over the audio mix. The extras are not the most numerous but provide a facinating insite into the film making process.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home