movie film review | chris tookey


  Hitcher Review
Tookey's Rating
2 /10
Average Rating
2.72 /10
Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton
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Directed by: Dave Meyers
Written by: Eric Red and Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt, based on the 1986 screenplay by Eric Red

Released: 2007
Origin: US
Colour: C
Length: 85

An unambitious remake of the cult classic from 1986, in which Rutger Hauer as an implacable hitch-hiker terrorised C. Thomas Howell and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Though no masterpiece, the original was well-acted, with a few memorably unpleasant scenes, a sneaky homo-erotic subtext, and a growing sense of menace that compensated for its voyeuristic gruesomeness. In the new version, Sophia Bush (pictured centre) and Zachary Knighton (right) are so personality-free, whiny and annoyingly dumb as the two leads, that it’s hard not to root for the demonic bad guy, who just seems like an amateur butcher eager to continue his trade despite distractions.

The big concession to modern tastes is that, instead of audience-members dreading his next murder, as they did in 1986, now we are invited to take a campy delight in innocent people being eviscerated. Ah, progress.

In the central role, much coarsened from the one that Hauer played, it’s depressing to see Sean Bean (left) slumming again. Where is the actor of subtlety we saw play Boromir in Lord of the Rings and Ulysses in Troy?

The Hitcher, which was wisely not inflicted on American critics, is the latest recycled horror from that reliably tasteless producer Michael Bay. Like his previous remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, it is louder, gorier and more stupid than the originals, and brazenly calculated to return its investment on its first weekend, before adverse reviews or word of mouth can take effect.

Next up for Bay, apparently, is a remake of Hitchcock’s The Birds (we even see a plug for the original in The Hitcher). The old thrillmeister must already be turning in his grave.

The Hitcher is the Jessica Simpson of psycho killer flicks - cheerfully in touch with its own brainlessness.
(Kyle Smith, New York Post)
The Hitcher's main problem is that many of the title character's dirty deeds are done off-camera. Instead of seeing Ryder trap his victims before he kills them, the audience is treated to plenty of butchered corpses that seem to magically appear after Ryder leaves a room.
(Stephen Saito, Premiere)
The young couple is far less compelling, which is one reason why the remake is only intermittently effective. Bland and dim-witted, it's hard to see why they'd attract Ryder's wrath.
(Jason Anderson, Globe and Mail)
A remake of the 1986 suspense ''classic,'' is as processed and hoot-worthy as the original.
(Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)
Somehow, music-video veteran David Meyers fails to hurtle this project into the pantheon of great horror movies.
(Nathan Rabin, The Onion)
This is a mechanical gore-fest that offers preposterous stunts in place of escalating tension and waxwork mannequins in place of marginally interesting characters.
(James Berardinelli, Reelviews)
The original film was intellectually engaging as well as tangibly creepy, while the new remake is just plain bad, and boring to boot.
(Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times)
You know that annoying thing horror film directors do at the end of their films, where they pretend a killer is dead, play tranquil music as the good guy turns his back on the "corpse" -- and then the bad guy comes back to life once or twice in the final scene? The makers of The Hitcher use this technique relentlessly for almost the entire picture. Starting maybe seven minutes into the film, the victims breathe more sighs of relief than you'll hear in the typical game of Jenga. Don't these people know that unless it's a zombie movie, the killer never dies in the first or second act?
(Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle)
While the 1986 edition was no classic, it's light years better than this update, which naturally opened without being screened for those ultimate villains, the critics.
(Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter)
In the veritable avalanche of product churned out by the horror retread assembly-lines these days, The Hitcher fails to make much of an impression.
(Ronnie Scheib, Variety)
Tense, brooding, scary - there are plenty of words to describe 1986's superior B-movie The Hitcher. None, however, apply to this remake. Only neglible changes have been made (the lead victim is female, for example) but they are enough to unhinge an already flimsy premise as a wandering psychopath searches for someone to stop his killing spree. Sean Bean is miscast in a role that Rutger Hauer played almost as an unstoppable force of nature. Don't even slow down for this one; certainly don't tag along for the ride.
(Phelim O'Neill, Guardian)
No great shakes. Sean Bean plays a homicidal lunatic relentlessly pursuing and framing a couple of college kids as they drive across New Mexico. The first half-hour is truly scary and the whole blood-drenched film is aimed at those who like their gore al dente. Bean has a menacing presence, but he doesn't have that diabolic, not-of-this-earth quality that Rutger Hauer brought to the original. The fair-haired, blue-eyed Neal McDonough, best known as the company commander in Flags of Our Fathers and Buck Compton in Band of Brothers, plays a New Mexico cop and would have been better as the hitcher.
(Phelim O'Neill, Guardian)
If you're going to make a schlocky slasher flick, you may as well go the whole hog - or so the makers of The Hitcher seem to have decided. Why have a gorgeous girl being pursued by a bloodthirsty killer without dressing her in a short skirt and tight top? Why indeed have a steely-eye killer if you're not going to cast Sean Bean? And if you're going to show someone dying horribly, why not string it out as long and as gruesomely as possible? There's nothing subtle about The Hitcher, but its boundless enthusiasm for genre staples entertains in a silly sort of way. The pace is lively, the threat constant and the cunning of its villain quite masterful (he even manages to dispense with whole police units, single handed and out of sight). But Ryder's character is never explored, and the whole exercise is even more superficial than the original. A guilty pleasure - but only if you like your action outlandish, your continuity challenged and your guts and gore splattered all over the screen.
(Anna Smith, BBCi)

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