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The Hitcher

There's not a shred of originality to be seen in The Hitcher, but it's still enough of an assault on two of the five senses to tide you over till the next horror remake.


Pretty people just don't understand—you're not safe anywhere and all the sadists are after YOU! As the two geniuses in The Hitcher, Grace (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim (Zachary Knighton), learn real quickly, a cross-country trek to New Mexico in a beat-up car is especially risky. During their first night out on the open road, it's raining cats and dogs when they almost run over a man (Sean Bean) who's standing aimlessly in the middle of the street, his car apparently broken down. The young couple decides against lending him a helping hand, with it pouring down rain and all. Bad move. When they stop for gas later, Jim and Grace cross paths with the man, who goes by the name of John Ryder. He asks the couple if he might hitch a short ride with them to a local motel. This time they oblige. Bad move.


One aspect the studio must've loved about The Hitcher: Being shot primarily in a car, the cast cannot feasibly be more than three deep—four, tops. That also means that said cast must wear the tension well if the camera is to be on them throughout. Bush (TV's One Tree Hill), the movie's biggest asset as far as its target audience is concerned, shrieks well and, most importantly, is smokin'. And when it comes time to fight back, she doesn't look so bad doing it, even if there's scant giggling in the theater at the now clichéd image of a weapon-wielding hot chick. As the hugely sadistic villain, Bean (GoldenEye, the LOTR movies, et al) is more than adequately creepy. There's something to be said with most of The Hitcher's viewers' inability to recognize him, because an A-list movie star just wouldn't work in this role. Obscurity aside, Bean, his face lurking around every corner, will simply creep the crap out of the young audience. As for Knighton, he seems and looks like the garden-variety up-and-comer, and try as I might, there's nothing wrong with his biggest role to date—except a scene of, um, tug-of-war that is tough to watch or look away from. Veteran actor Neal McDonough also pops in with a brief role as a sheriff caught in the proverbial crosshairs.


These days, it's tough to come up with anything new in a horror film—so directors just don't bother. Save for neo-horror maestro Eli Roth, there's no originality to be seen, especially when seemingly 99 percent of horror movies are remakes, and when they're not remakes, they're Primeval or Turistas. The Hitcher is much better than those two, but director Dave Meyers truly eliminates most of the psychological aspect of the original 1986 Hitcher in exchange for a polished, contemporary feel. Of course, Meyers is one the most renowned music video directors of the past several years, so it's no surprise when he mistakes volume for thrills; in fact, the decibels will be the chief reason for almost all of the audience's screaming. Not that there aren't scary moments, however. The writers, Jake Wade Wall (When a Stranger Calls) and Eric Bernt (Romeo Must Die), actually get the film off to a brisk, smooth start, but they ultimately turn John Ryder into more of a Terminator-like character and ask for too many leaps of faith and suspensions of disbelief—again, not that their intended audience won't indulge them. At least the studio had the guts to retain the intended 'R' rating!

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.