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(Review originally written at 22 December 2007)

What good could you expect from a movie with an 'hip' title such as "Joy Ride", with a couple of pretty youngster in it. Well, "Joy Ride" surprises on almost every front and it's not like most other modern horror/thrillers, in which youngster play the main role. The genre that is being very popular this decade with movies such as "Jeepers Creepers" and remakes such as "House of Wax". After seeing those movies, this movie really feels like a breath of fresh air.

What makes "Joy Ride" so incredibly good and effective is the build-up of the tension. It's a sort of minimalistic movie, in terms of that it often doesn't show what is happening but rather imply things. It provides the movie with some typical 'edge-of-your-seat' kind of moments and also for most part makes this an unpredictable movie to watch, with plenty of good genre surprises in it.

Even though this movie doesn't really have a monster or gore in it, it still can really be seen as an horror movie, not in the least thanks to it's wonderful build-up and overall atmosphere. John Dahl proofs himself once more to be a more than capable director.

Yes, of course the movie shows plenty of similarities between other 'road-kill' movies such as "Duel" and "The Hitcher" so you can't really call this movie an original one. But nevertheless, the movie never feels like a bad rip-off that tries to cash in on the back's of other movies. The movie has plenty to offer on its own and certainly has enough quality to distinct itself from the average genre attempt, especially when compared to most other comparable genre movies from this decade.

The story doesn't always flow too well and it often makes some sudden jumps. You can also say that in some parts not enough is happening but I think that this is all part of the build-up of the movie. The movie wants you to feel safe while watching and makes you feel at ease, until it then suddenly lets its action and tension kick in again, which makes it all the more effective of course.

Seemed to me that Steve Zahn was thinking he was making a comedy at times. He of course is also mostly a comedy-actor, which might explain this. Perhaps it was also part of the director and build in as a sort of back-up. It was like they were thinking; hey, if the horror/tension of the movie doesn't work out, we can still turn it into a more comical/light less serious movie when needed. But I forgive them. It are not really the actors or characters that carry the movie, it's more a real movie that relies purely on its tension, atmosphere and surprises.

Perfectly watchable and recommendable and way more than just another 'modern 00's-teenage-horror/thriller-flick'.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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