The CB radio used to be the CNN of my small hometown. Or the internet. Or the cell phone. Everyone had one. Everyone talked on them. We all had handles, we all used the lingo. And the rest of the world stopped talking on the citizen’s band, but trust me. It didn’t go away.
We learned one very important lesson: don’t make the truckers angry. The kids in this movie should have known better.
College students Lewis Thomas (Paul Walker) and Venna Wilcox (Leelee Sobieski, remember her?) are headed home from college, but first they have to pick up his brother Fuller (Steve Zahn, remember him?) who needs bailed out. Again.
Fuller has a CB radio installed on Lewis’s car so they can listen in to trucker chatter on their long trip. They end up playing a prank on a trucker named Rusty Nail (voiced by Ted Levine from Silence of the Lambs) and act like a hot girl named Candy Cane, luring him to the hotel room of a man who treated Fuller badly. Rusty Nail ends up killing that man and stalking the brothers — and eventually Venna — for the rest of the film.
Written by J.J. Abrams, this movie is obviously influenced by Steven Spielberg’s Duel. The movie makers couldn’t decide which star Sobieski should have a love scene with, so they shot both. And then, they didn’t use either.
They also shot five other endings. One had Rusty kill himself as the police found a truck filled with bodies. Another had him arrested. There was one where the two brothers beat him up. One had him and his truck get blown up real good and the final one had him hit by his own truck.
That said, Rusty Nail would survive to appear in two direct-to-video sequels: Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead and Joy Ride 3: Roadkill.
I love the working titles of this film: Candy Cane, Highway Horror, Deadly Frequency, and Squelch. I love the alternate titles for foreign countries even more: Roadkill, Never Play with Strangers, Radio Killer, Never Talk to Strangers, Mortal Frequency and What a Ride!