Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
Watch On
  1. Turns out to be the most unnerving film of the year. Easy.
  2. 90
    If you're looking to have your nerves fried and your pulse pounded, this is your ticket to ride.
  3. Terrific escapist fare, stylish, outrageous and compelling.
  4. Climb into this rig and you'll be sweating bullets.
  5. 90
    Redoubtably hilarious as always, Zahn also lends his character unpredictable flashes of anger, pathos, and faint psychosis, even when the movie jumps the median from ticklishly discomfiting black comedy into by-the-numbers horror jolts.
  6. The potential for action never lets up; you never know what's coming around the next corner.
  7. 88
    There is a kind of horror movie that plays so convincingly we don't realize it's an exercise in pure style. ''Halloween'' is an example, and John Dahl's Joy Ride is another.
  8. A horror film that doesn't wear out a moment of its welcome.
  9. Skillfully crafted, flawlessly paced, intellectually challenging tension of classics like "Bad Day at Black Rock."
  10. Zigzags across the conventions of genre, occasionally driving on the shoulders of black humor -- it's a road movie for the way we process suspense today.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Hot-wired, white-knuckle thriller.
  12. 80
    The kicker is that Joy Ride is funny, too. In fact, it would be a superbly frightening entertainment if not for the way Dahl fixates, disturbingly, on sadistic details.
  13. In noir, everybody's guilty, and that's one of the pleasures of Joy Ride. The three youngsters aren't exactly innocent.
  14. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    The director, John Dahl, has no intention to baffle or obscure; his objective is to scare the living daylights out of you, or, more pertinently, the dying headlights.
  15. 80
    Director John Dahl ("Red Rock West," "The Last Seduction") has a pronounced knack for snap reversals and out-of-the-blue shocks.
  16. 75
    Joy Ride is also surprisingly funny, thanks mostly to Zahn.
  17. 75
    There's good pulp and bad pulp, and for most of its duration, Joy Ride is quality stuff.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    It's a snazzy, smartly made, and even hip little scarefest. As a jump-start to Halloween, it's all you could hope for.
  19. Joy Ride is plenty spooky but there's also plenty of comic relief -- mostly from the perennially goofy Zahn.
  20. A really satisfying suspenser, but also really, really fun.
  21. 75
    Some of the plot twists don't really stand up to close scrutiny, but the sometimes over-the-top Joy Ride plows through them with such joyful glee, you don't really care.
  22. Manages to be both astoundingly derivative and reasonably entertaining at the same time.
  23. Much more effectively terrifying than the usual overplotted, underwritten Hollywood thriller.
  24. There's plenty of scary pleasure to be had from this clever, compact thriller.
  25. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Even at its best, Ride never survives its shaky opening hook.
  26. 60
    Despite its few flaws, Joy Ride does take viewers on one hell of a ride. It's one of those rare films that manages to take an overused plot and breathe some sort of creativity into it.
  27. At some point in this endless thriller the suspense turns into an extremely unpleasant ordeal that Dahl doesn't know when to stop.
  28. 60
    The sequel-ready twist at the end is a letdown, but until then this is a neatly constructed nail-biter.
  29. 60
    Pure, irrational, claustrophobic, gritty, unpretentious.
  30. 50
    Dahl, who really does know what he's doing when it comes to investing a scene with both heebies and jeebies, is a notch or two above most.
  31. 42
    The picture is pinched and predictable. Even with the immensely talented Steve Zahn, an actor who's known to steal scenes and, sometimes, save pictures, the movie is a yawn.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 127 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. Apr 14, 2015
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Two brothers played by Paul Walker and Stephen Zahn prank on a truck driver with a CB radio while on a road trip to pick up a friend (Leelee Sobieski). Very soon after they regret playing the prank. The truck driver is insane and makes their lives a living hell.
    What makes Joy Ride, late Paul Walker's best film is that it's a fun thriller heightened by chilling voice work by Ted Levine (Silence of the Lambs) as the truck driver. Walker impersonating a woman named Candy Cane on the CB radio which starts everything, is pretty funny. I'm not sure how anyone would believe he was a lady.
    Full Review »
  2. Aug 11, 2011
    Quite a few scenes in this movie were edge of your seat, nail biting moments. The movie unraveled, with hills and valleys, pretty well untilQuite a few scenes in this movie were edge of your seat, nail biting moments. The movie unraveled, with hills and valleys, pretty well until the end. For some reason this movie got my adrenaline going and then I fell a little flat. I had to ask myself if 5 minutes of the film was strong enough to disappoint me after watching the previous hour and a half? I think, yes. Full Review »
  3. snekir.
    Dec 15, 2005
    Brilliant (also their official cite) but it is litlle predictive.