The Hitcher *
Directed by Dave Meyers
Written by Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt, based on the 1986 screenplay "The Hitcher" written by Eric Red
Sophia Bush as Grace Andrews
Zachary Knighton as Jim Halsey
Sean Bean as John Ryder
Neal McDonough as Lieutenant Esteridge
83 Minutes(Rated R for strong bloody violence, terror and language.)
If there is anything good that could be said about "The Hitcher," the next in a long slew of horror films slated for this portion of the year, it's that it does try to tell an actual story, but it still ends up drifting to the normal horror film cliches-too much blood, cardboard characters, silly jump scenes-that will make even the die hard horror fan roll his eyes. It isn't another installment into torture like most horror films gear into-there are some conversation, stupid ones though, but at least not all humans are treated like pieces of meat, being hung up and beaten and mangled. There's even a few car chases. But in the end, "The Hitcher" is just plain stupid, a horror film that could have had some character development, but just ends up being more of the same-more of a teenage couple being chased by a madman, more of the same conversations, and more of the same lame action. And it is indeed a remake, because no horror movie that comes out anymore can be it's own story-it all has to be a repeat from something else. Now I've never seen the original film, but this reeks of remake from beginning to end.
The film begins with a rabbit running down a highway road, right before getting hit by an oncoming car. I had a feeling that the rabbit was doomed, simply because it looked fake. They wouldn't kill a real rabbit, but they wouldn't hesitate in killing a CGI one. This offers no point than to give a little blood, and to tell signs of things to come, as if we didn't know that already. And then we meet the two main characters, and screaming teens, Grace and Jim. There's a bit of back story where Jim is picking Grace up for spring break, but it's not going to be the destination that matters, but the journey. On the way, in the middle of the rain, they just avoid hitting a man standing on the highway. The car stops, and they debate about if they should talk to him or not. They opt not to, but Jim feels funny about it. Pulling into a gas station(it's always a gas station), the man ends up walking in, right after getting a drive from a trucker. Jim offers the man a ride when he realizes that he might not be as creepy as before-he's even wearing a wedding ring. On the way, the man, who names himself John Ryder, pulls a knife on them, and tells them to utter four little words: I Want To Die. Jim and Grace band together, unlock the door, and kick John out of the car. But it doesn't stop there, because for the next day they will be hunted by John, framed for the murders of multiple people including cops, and bruised and battered continuously-it seems like spring break will not shine its nice little head on these two.
So what do we have? There's the standard dream sequence scene-where one of the characters is acting like he's awake, and then he is attacked, but it turns out to all be just a dream. There's the cardboard characters who have no trace of humanity in them at all. Well, maybe that's not fair. Right before John Ryder slaughters an entire family, Grace asks Jim if he ever thought about having kids. I know it's supposed to bring humanity into their relationship, but they are only 20. I have a feeling that neither one of them has even considered children. There's the silly fact that Grace holds a gun to Ryder's head for half the flick and doesn't even shoot. She threatens it a lot, but never does it for the sole reason that it would make the movie an hour shorter, and that could be a good thing. And when Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton are running and screaming, Sean Bean just looks at them with a dirty stare, and shoots many people. I like Sean Bean a lot, but he literally is doing nothing here. He doesn't even look interested in being there. The first time we see his face he is supposed to be looking beyond the camera, but he looks like he is looking beyond the camera, and into a daydream world where good horror movies were made, and not drivel like "The Hitcher." This is clearly a paycheck part, and nothing more to him.
Now, the real sad part is, if you are looking for gore and screaming and a standard wide release horror film, this is probably the best bet. It tells a story at least and doesn't resort to cheap useless gores like graphic brain surgery(except maybe a scene involving handcuffs towards the end, although I was looking for something more from it knowing how horror is made nowadays). It isn't like "Primeval," because it has an actual script with dialogue that is coherent, and it surpasses things like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" because it doesn't go over the top. But it is so repetitive, and the same nonsense over and over again. They scream, they run, they find down time, scream, run again, maybe a car chase here and there, have a talk with the police. It became the longest 82 minutes of my entire life-a cat and mouse chase with no end in sight, and then a third act "surprise" that makes things go on even longer.
One last thing I want to discuss is to go back to Sean Bean, but talk about his character. I know nothing about John Ryder than I did before I went in. All I know is that he kills people. I think it would have been more interesting, and in a smarter world this is what would have happened, we could have explored his part a tad more-his past a little bit, why he is who he is. He shows signs of being an interesting character study two times before the end, but then instead of getting into that we get a person getting ripped in two, and then someones head blown off, respectively. Who gets cut in half and who gets their head blown off are questions that I will leave to you to find the answer to, but when and if you do you won't really care all that much. "The Hitcher" is more middle of January blues that just won't let go for another week. Hopefully this is all that is in wide release this week, and maybe the art house fare will treat me better. To the general movie audiences. . . sorry. . . .you're out of luck. . . maybe you could catch the wide release of "The Last King of Scotland" in theatre 2.