Joy Ride

Another crappy year... even the horror films I've liked somewhat have been marred with some problem or another (HANNIBAL and its ending, THE FORSAKEN and its status as a clone, etc.)--but here's a damn good one at last.

First of all, were the names of the brothers chosen as "Lewis" and "Fuller" for any particular reason? Not any knowledge of "Louis Fuller" of 7 DOORS OF DEATH fame, by any chance? 

I digress. You get the idea--three travelers (actually, just two for half of the movie) terrorized by psycho in big-rig after a prank goes too far. Simple, almost primal premise--but it's done beautifully without being a carbon copy of anything else!

Sure, you've heard DUEL. Okay, so a big truck looms up and goes BWOOOOONNNNKKK!!!! sometimes. But this is no Spielberg TV-movie clone: the psycho may be a mystery, but he's only too happy to talk to the characters throughout, and the action isn't limited to the road, either.

No, this one goes back further. Though it's by no means a remake (Fred Walton did a remake already), this looks back at William Castle and I SAW WHAT YOU DID--that irresistible premise of the babysitter who phone-pranks the wrong guy. No airhead babysitter here: JOY RIDE gives us agreeable (if not always sympathetic), believable characters for once. Think JEEPERS CREEPERS gave us enough character development to make up for the incredibly stupid behavior? It tried, all right, but this one truly succeeds--you can imagine JOY RIDE playing out just the way you see it.

After such well-received work as THE LAST SEDUCTION, it's great to see John Dahl trying his hand at what any logical person would call a "horror movie," regardless of whatever spin the studio might wish to give it. I don't care who doesn't call it horror--so far, I say it's the best horror film I've seen this year.

Oh, and the patron saint I said I was going to nominate? Remember how much I liked the remake of HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL? How much I'm looking forward to 13 GHOSTS? How I instantly recognized I SAW WHAT YOU DID in JOY RIDE? The day of the showman is back, and right now, the contemporary horror that works the best owes it to the spirit of none other than William Castle! Take some time out this month ('tis the season, after all) and watch your favorite Castle flick as soon as possible.

And, oh yes, see JOY RIDE before it gets away.

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