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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.43%
Worth A Look: 15.09%
Just Average: 18.87%
Pretty Crappy30.19%
Sucks: 26.42%

5 reviews, 23 user ratings

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Hitcher, The (2007)
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by Mel Valentin

"No good deed goes unpunished."
2 stars

When word leaks out that a horror film some fans consider a cult classic is about to be remade by a movie studio, it’s pretty obvious that artistic pretensions have nothing to do with it. Releasing the original doesn’t work either. Moviegoers won’t pay to see a film theatrically when they can rent it for a fraction the price on DVD. The only alternative for cashing in on a cult classic is simple: switch out the actors for younger models from television, bring in an inexpensive music video director to helm his first film, superficially modernize the setting, and cynically increase the violence and gore (assuming you’re not aiming for the bloodless, “PG-13” crowd, in which case the reverse is true), all of which leads us to the remake of a cult horror classic, "The Hitcher."

Driving across New Mexico on their way to meet some friends for spring break, Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) almost hit a stranded motorist. They run across the stranded motorist, John Ryder (Sean Bean), at a gas station. Grace resists giving Ryder a ride, but, when asked, Jim decides to give Ryder a ride to the next town. In the car, Ryder’s easygoing demeanor disappears quickly, revealing a vicious, knife-wielding sociopath. They narrowly escape. Ryder, though, isn’t done with Jim and Grace, shadowing them at every turn, and implicating Jim and Grace in a series of brutal murders that, in turn, brings the New Mexico State Police into Ryder’s increasingly deadly game of cat-and-mouse.

The remake substitutes a young, college age couple for the original’s lone, isolated protagonist, an idea that suggests that the lesser-known 2003 straight-to-video sequel, The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting, was also used by the screenwriters in developing the remake. The original followed a single character as he repeatedly encountered and confronted the mysterious hitcher (a romantic interest isn't introduced until the midway point). Like the 1986 original, though, the remake borrowed the premise (making the hitcher a sociopathic killer) from a first season episode of Rod Serling's anthology series, The Twilight Zone, “The Hitch-Hiker,” by way of Steven Spielberg’s Duel (an extended chase across empty, desolate highways) and James Cameron’s The Terminator (an unrelenting, almost indestructible villain).

On the minus side, the remake excises the psychological complexity and the narrative ambiguity that suggested the hitcher either had supernatural powers or was an extension of the protagonist’s fractured psyche. In the remake, Ryder is as “real” as Jim or Grace. Although the remake preserves Ryder’s enigmatic background, the remake does away with the killer’s warped desire to die at the protagonist’s hands (some of the killer’s dialogue is lifted from the original, but with a different meaning). Also missing in action is backstory for the lead characters, common sense or logical behavior, or the expected, extended confrontation between the last character standing and the hitcher; the confrontation is simply too short and undeveloped to be dramatically or emotionally satisfying.

Does the remake of The Hitcher have anything going for it? Sure, the early buildup works effectively, as do the second and third encounters with Ryder and the New Mexico Police, the occasional splatter of gratuitous, realistic gore (a sucking chest wound here, a geyser of crimson blood there, a severed body here), and a grisly death scene lifted beat for beat from the 1986 film, but The Hitcher soon loses all sense of internal logic and momentum, with characters acting dumbly rashly not because it’s in their nature, but because their nonsensical decisions (e.g., running when they shouldn’t, stopping for a shower and a nap with the killer still on the loose) are necessary to advance The Hitcher to the next increasingly implausible plot turn.

Last, Sophia Bush ("One Tree Hill") and Zachary Knighton turn in serviceable, bland performances as the generic couple-in-danger (the spare, underwritten script doesn’t help). Sean Bean is disappointing as the hitcher not because he lacks talent (he has it) or phones in a one-note performance (well ok, he does), but because it’s hard to imagine what made him accept a role that Rutger Hauer elevated to iconic status twenty years ago with his off-kilter line readings and creepy mannerisms. Less like this, please.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15504&reviewer=402
originally posted: 01/19/07 17:27:33
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

11/05/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess The original movie runs this one right off the road! 1 stars
6/21/09 matt PRETTY DAMN GOOD. proof that you can't trust reviews. see it 4 stars
2/10/09 martz meh....so-so remake 2 stars
1/16/09 Shaun Wallner Not as great as I thought it was gonna be 2 stars
5/24/08 Karrie Millheim I liked it alot, Sean Bean is hot, my hubby says its stupid because theres a girl in it 5 stars
12/17/07 art this is a superior thriller-movie 5 stars
11/17/07 marina I really liked this movie ! 5 stars
10/30/07 Kingston Churchill gayyy. 3 ps= Pointless, predictable & phoney 1 stars
10/22/07 DK Decent remake with a good turn from Bean, but what really was the point? 3 stars
7/08/07 mr.mike original did it far better 2 stars
6/15/07 William Goss Watchable enough, although laughable towards the end. Original's better. 3 stars
6/10/07 Indrid Cold Maybe I'm off base here, but I thought it was a great adventure/thriller. 4 stars
5/23/07 Charles Tatum The most unnecessary remake since Van Sant's Psycho 1 stars
5/09/07 Mandee I loved the movie i just wish it would have been scarier b/c i didn't jump at all 5 stars
5/01/07 Tracey Chambers didnt I just see this twenty years ago 1 stars
3/14/07 The Velcro Warlock Rare item: horror/slasher flick w/ suspense&coherence. Where's Sophia Bush been all my life 5 stars
1/25/07 Man Out 6 Bucks Fork it over, patsy. You wanna get laid and I need a house in Mailbu. 1 stars
1/23/07 Jeff Anderson Brisk, but pointless remake. Bean is NO Rutger Hauer, then again neither was Jake Busey! 2 stars
1/22/07 Ole Man Bourbon Total crap. 1 stars
1/20/07 Nick SUUUUUUUUUCKED! Stop these assheads from remaking these movies!!!!!! 1 stars
1/20/07 Todd I like the original better 3 stars
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  19-Jan-2007 (R)
  DVD: 01-May-2007

  01-Jun-2007 (18)
  DVD: 01-Oct-2007

  08-Mar-2007 (R)

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Dave Meyers

Written by
  Jake Wade Wall
  Eric Bernt

  Sean Bean
  Sophia Bush
  Zachary Knighton
  Neal McDonough

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