The plot of "Joy Ride" follows two young adults who make contact with a trucker on their CB radio. However, the trucker is revealed to be a serial killer, and the trio tries to escape with their lives.
"Joy Ride" follows the exploits of Lewis Thomas, his brother Fuller Thomas and Venna Wilcox, played by Paul Walker, Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski, respectively. On a road trip, Lewis and Fuller play a trick on a trucker known as Rusty Nail, voiced by an uncredited Ted Levine. Lewis contacts Rusty Nail via CB radio, and, pretending to be an attractive woman named Candy Cane, invites Rusty Nail to a motel to have sex, giving him the room number of an obnoxious businessman. Rusty Nail murders the businessman and attacks the brothers until they apologize.
Lewis and Fuller soon pick up Wilcox, along with her friend, Charlotte, played by Jessica Bowman. Rusty Nail reappears, demanding more than just an apology from the brothers. He kidnaps Venna and Charlotte and arranges a meeting with the brothers at a hotel. Lewis and Fuller manage to save Venna and Charlotte after a violent confrontation with Rusty Nail, but they are unable to prevent his escape. The film ends with Rusty Nail sending a message via CB radio confirming his survival.