Film: Joy Ride

Joy Ride is a 2001 horror film written and produced by J. J. Abrams (yes, that J.J. Abrams) and starring Paul Walker and Leelee Sobieski that subsequently spawned two direct-to-video sequels: Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (2008) and Joy Ride 3: Road Kill (2014). All three films follow roughly the same narrative. A group of young adult pranksters make the big mistake of pissing off a deranged truck driver, "Rusty Nail". Being the old-school road-rager that he is Rusty retaliates by stalking and terrorizing said pranksters in his large and ominous Peterbilt and often taking out a few innocent bystanders in the process. The original Joy Ride was well-received by fans of the genre and critics alike; the two sequels not-so-much but they still are largely considered to be above average popcorn slasher flicks.

This film contains examples of:

  • 555: Rusty's cellphone number in the third movie is a 555 number.
  • Action Girl / Action Girlfriend: Melissa in Joy Ride 2.
  • Actor Allusion: In the first movie Rusty is voiced by Ted Levine, who already played another another (in)famous serial killer.
  • Asshole Victim: A good chunk of the people Rusty targets are usually not-so-innocent and often deliberately provoked him first. Examples include the meth-addicts who tried to rob him, the main group in the second movie (they did break into his house, trash it some and steal his car after all), hell even Lewis and Fuller (Fuller especially when Rusty asked for an apology) in the first movie went out of their way to piss him off.
  • Ax-Crazy: Take a wild guess as to who.
  • Badass Driver: Rusty may be a psychopath with anger management issues but he is a damn good truck driver.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In all three movies Rusty does a brutal number on his targets and escapes the police alive (albeit injured in the last two films and minus his truck in all three).
  • Batman Gambit: Rusty just isn't brutal, ruthless and sadistic; he is also very cunning and typically more intelligent than his targets and is usually one step ahead of them.
  • Beard of Evil: Rusty, when we finally see his face in the third movie, sports a fairly impressive beard.
  • Big Bad: Rusty, of course.
  • Big Badass Rig: In all three movies Rusty drives a jet-black Peterbilt 379, one of the most visually impressive and intimidating trucks on the road (there is a reason that it is the same make and model of truck used for Optimus Prime).
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The first movie was more of a psychological thriller with minimal bloodshed (Rusty only killed one guy and put another in the intensive care ward). The two sequels were more slasher flicks that showcased Rusty using his truck to kill people in increasingly sadistic and creative ways.
  • Booby Trap: Rusty rigs one up using a shotgun with its trigger connected via string to the hotel door in the climax of the first movie.
  • Call Back: In the pre-opening credits of the third movie intro one of the meth heads uses "Candy" as her CB handle prompting Rusty to respond that he knew a Candy Cane once.
  • Car Fu: A good chunk of the movies is Rusty playing bumper cars with the protagonists' vehicles.
  • Catch Phrase: "Candy Cane..."
  • Chronically Crashed Car: In all three movies Rusty's truck is destroyed. Shot by police and crashed into a hotel in the first one; set on fire and driven over a cliff in the second; ripped apart by a junk-yard crane and dropped into a car crusher in the third.
  • Comically Missing the Point: "When did you get out of jail, yesterday?"
  • Cool Car: Rusty's silver 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle in the second film (which is promptly stolen by the main characters) and the racing team's heavily customized Subaru Impreza in the third.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Throughout the films we have seen Rusty shove one guy's hands, and later face, into the cooling fan of his truck engine; use a electric winch and chain to drive a bunch of bolts slowly and painfully into another guy's skull; etc...
  • Damsel in Distress: Venna in Joy Ride. Jewel in the third.
  • Deadly Prank
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Shows up in the third movie when Rusty uses his truck's engine fan to dispatch one of his victims.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of Rusty's defining traits, besides sadism and brutality.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Steal Rusty's car? He'll kill you horribly. Insult truckers? Kill you horribly. Give him the finger? He'll take that finger. Then again, he kills some people horribly for no particular reason at all.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Fuller, why oh why did you feel the need to insult Rusty over the CB after the cops had taken you to the hospital and shown you what happens to people who piss Rusty off?
  • Drives Like Crazy
  • Everyone Lives: Played straight in Joy Ride where all main cast members survive. But averted in other two movies.
  • Evil Is Funny: Rusty Nail definitely has an, albeit seriously warped, sense of humor.
  • Evil Is Petty: Giving Rusty the finger results in bodily mutilation of either the bird-flipper or their friends.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Rusty and this goes double when he is played by Mark Gibbon in the first sequel.
  • The Faceless: Rusty's face is always blocked by his cap. This changes in the third movie where his face is seen within the first five minutes of the movie and is shown on multiple occasions thereafter.
  • Fanservice: Leelee Sobieski spent the majority of her scenes braless. To say nothing of Steve Zahn and Paul Walker when Rusty blackmails Lewis and Fuller into entering a truck stop diner completely nude.
  • Final Girl:
    • Somehow Subverset in first film, since both girls survive.
    • Melissa in Joy Ride 2, but fiancÚ Bobby survives too.
    • Third film have one girl that survive.
  • Finger in the Mail: Well, more like in the glove compartment.
  • Floating Head Syndrome
  • Forced to Watch: Rusty is very prone to doing this his victims. The hotel and the shotgun booby-trap climax in the first, the craps game in the second, Jewel in the trailer with the electric winch in the third.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: The second movie revealed that Rusty is a chain smoker, a trend continued in the third.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Well, woman in this case. Rusty ties Jewel in the third film to the top of his truck's trailer and drives towards a low-hanging bridge.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Rusty, of course. In fact, a lot of the time it is unclear if Rusty is a Serial Killer actively searching for victims or simply a lonely trucker that turns really, really angry when somebody messes with him and is prone to Disproportionate Retribution. This fact is discussed in his mock interview for Joy Ride 2:
    Interviewer: Where do you find the motivation to hunt down these kids and torment them like you do?
    Rusty Nail: Where do I find the motivation to hunt down these kids and torment them like I do? Well, somebody stole your car and broke into your home and kicked your door down, messed where they shouldn't be messing, you might get angry too. I just get a little more angry than the average person and I don't let people get away with things that anger me.
  • Hollywood CB: Many times throughout the movies, the main characters and their pursuer have inexplicable privacy on the radio. In Real Life, State Highway Patrols have a tendency to monitor CB channels and other truckers would also be listening in so in reality the cops would have been all over Rusty about half-way through the first movie.
  • I Can See You:
    Rusty (speaking through the truck radio): You know, Black Sheep, you really ought to get that fixed.
    Fuller: Get what fixed?
    Rusty: Your taillight.
  • I Have Your Wife: Our girlfriend (first and third) or boyfriend (second).
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Rusty forces part of the gang in the second movie to put on a little "show" in front of what they think is his truck. It isn't, it belongs to another trucker who promptly records the entire thing and uploads it immediately.
  • Jerkass: Fuller in the first movie, Nik in the second movie; hell, it seems like half the protagonists in all three movies are assholes.
  • Lost in the Maize: The protagonists are chased by Rusty through a corn field.
  • My Car Hates Me: In all three movies the protagonists' car gives them trouble (like having a flat tire after they had put some distance between them and Rusty and therefore allowing Rusty to catch up).
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Averted in the second movie and third movies, there aren't too many silver 71 Chevrolet Chevelles on the road and that makes it rather easy for Rusty to track the group. The racing team's customized Subaru Impreza in the third is also hard to miss.
  • Mugging the Monster:
    • The group in the second movie break into a house after their car breaks down and end up stealing a beautifully restored classic muscle car from the barn. Said house and car belong to Rusty, who takes it about as well as you would expect.
    • In the opening of the third movie two meth-heads think it is a good idea to lure a trucker to their hotel room so they can rob him. Unfortunately for them, said trucker is Rusty Nail.
  • Not Quite Dead: Rusty in every film's ending seems to have been killed, but is later revealed to be alive.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Rusty is only known by his CB handle.
  • Oh Crap!: Usually happens whenever someone sees Rusty's truck behind them or he calls them on the CB.
  • Pit Girls: Jewel and Alisa in the third movie.
  • Police Are Useless: Both averted and played straight.
  • Road Trip Plot
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Rusty's motivation in all three movies. First one was to make Fuller and Lewis pay for the little incident at the hotel. The second one was for the group breaking into his house and stealing his car. The third was for the Austin nearly running him off the road while showing off.
  • Scare Chord: Often used to introduce Rusty's truck.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: While perhaps not the true intent of the film, it does serve as a warning to would-be pranksters that they should be careful who they mess with and when to stop.
    Tagline: It started as a joke. Now the joke is on them.
  • Serial Killer: Rusty Nail, by the events of Dead Ahead, which has him pick up and kill a prostitute in the opening, and he is implied to have killed a female hitchhiker in the epilogue.
  • Shameful Strip: To teach the boys what it's like to feel humiliated and to distract them while he kidnaps Venna, Rusty blackmails them into entering a diner nude and ordering a dozen cheeseburgers each.
  • Schmuck Bait: In the third film Rusty forces two meth-heads who tried to rob him to ride on the front of his truck with their wrists chained to the drive axle. If they let go the chain will slacken, get caught in the U-joint and wrap around the axle, dragging them under the truck. Rusty promises them that if they can hold on for a mile he will not only let them go but give them a bag of meth which, he promptly tapes to the truck's windshield and if they try to grab it the chain will slacken. Three guesses what happens.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Said by Mickey to Jordan in the third movie when he forces them to stop and gets out of the car. Unfortunately, he runs into Rusty while walking down the road.
  • Slasher Movie: Joy Ride 2 and 3 turned into this.
  • Slashers Prefer Blondes: Averted in Joy Ride 2 where blonde girl Melissa is the film's Final Girl. But played straight in the third film where two blonde girls - Candy and Jewel - are killed.
  • Spiritual Successor: The first film drew a lot of inspiration and themes from Duel.
  • Stalker Without a Crush: Good old Rusty, of course. It takes a lot to get him to quit following and messing with you if you are unlucky enough to have attracted his attention.
  • Surprise Vehicle: A lot of times the main characters don't seem to notice Rusty's truck until it is right on top of them.
  • Tattooed Crook: Rusty.
  • Tempting Fate: When Rusty asks for an apology for the prank, Fuller responds instead with a diatribe. This results in an Oh Crap! when Rusty implies he's behind them by commenting on their burned-out tail light.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The meth heads in the third movie, the crushing of the cell-phones in the second, Fuller's insulting diatribe towards Rusty when they already know he is not somebody to mess with, hell there is usually at least three or four examples in each movie.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Fuller pressures his brother into pretending to be a girl on the radio to prank a stranger.
    Fuller: Get him goin', get him all worked up, and then in the middle of it, say 'Hey guess what! I'm a dude!' Come on, man, it'll be fun!
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension
  • Vapor Wear