Joy Ride [2001]

Director: John Dahl
Stars: Matthew Kimbrough, Leelee Sobieski, Steve Zahn, Paul Walker, Jessica Bowman
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 97 minutes

Joy Ride follows the familiar conventions of road-movie thrillers with enough vitality to make everything old seem new again. A confirmed master of neo-noir suspense, director John Dahl (Red Rock West, The Last Seduction) sets a consistent tone of humor and horror as Lewis (Paul Walker) and his black-sheep brother Fuller (Steve Zahn) drive from Salt Lake City to pick up Lewis's friend Venna (Leelee Sobieski) in Boulder, Colorado. En route, they play a practical joke via CB radio, inviting vengeful terror as an unseen trucker (voiced with exquisite menace by Silence of the Lambs villain Ted Levine) pursues them with relentless, homicidal aggression. Inevitable comparisons to Steven Spielberg's Duel fail to appreciate Dahl's unique talent for energizing B-movie formulas while injecting his own brand of rib-tickling excitement. While Zahn deserves extra credit in his first top-billed role, Joy Ride wins a badge of honor for everyone involved. --Jeff Shannon

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