It's fascinating to look back on a pre-9/11 era when our culture's greatest fear was the consequences of bullying. While the horror fan in me was hoping for a grim ending in which our characters actually faced lasting consequences for their actions, I won't hold that against "Joy Ride." It's a smartly written (in part by J.J. Abrams!) and well-executed thriller that pays homage to Spielberg's "Duel."
An underrated, near-masterpiece of tension, "Joy Ride" takes every opportunity to milk all the suspense out of the story. Almost Hitchcockian in the way it sets up such sequences as the ice truck driver and the climax at the motel. To boot, Paul Walker and Steve Zahn have amiable and believably chemistry as hard-luck brothers. Have seen it four times, and each time, I still clench in suspense at certain scenes.