The Hitcher Dave Meyers

The Hitcher Dave Meyers
At least it’s only 83 minutes long. That’s what I kept telling myself before (just barely) tolerating yet another Hollywood horror remake. The Hitcher is of special interest because the 1986 original is a threatening little nail biter, largely due to the casting of Rutger Hauer, one of the most underrated acting villains of the last three decades. (The man is so unbelievably sinister that when he smiles he looks most dangerous.) Like most of these updates this one, courtesy of music video director Meyers (Creed, Britney Spears, Dave Matthews Band — talk about horror!), goes for cheap thrills, missing many of the key elements that made the original a film worth replicating. The film now centres on a couple — reusing C. Thomas Howell’s character Jim Halsey (now Zachery Knighton) and adding girlfriend Grace Andrews (One Tree Hill’s Sofia Bush) — who pick up a stranded stranger named John Ryder (Sean Bean) after they nearly run him over in bad weather. Of course, this hitcher is the one they always warn you about and he tries to off the pair immediately. Once they dump him out of the car, Jim and Grace aren’t safe and sound; they find themselves trapped in a game of cat and mouse, as this sociopath has devised a way to frame them for murder, while he runs amok on anyone in his way. Bean’s shown he has a real gift for playing the baddies (i.e., GoldenEye, Don’t Say A Word) but he’s miscast here despite a good effort to appear nasty. Instead, he feels too much like a dangerous, unrelenting pest when he should be pee-your-pants chilling the way Hauer was (I credit those creepy eyes). As well, the now clichéd role reversal (is it the advent of political correctness we have to blame for every girl in a horror remake surviving?) means it’s poor Jim that suffers the tractor trailer tug-o-war, which feels far less gut-wrenching than when Jennifer Jason Leigh was the victim. Bush does her best to carry out the film’s ending but when closure hits The Hitcher falls into the trap that every horror flick has since Scream emerged. Plus, where’s the damn severed finger in the French fries scene? How could Meyers miss out on that? Deleted scenes and a couple featurettes are included, one of which shows how they tear Knighton apart; it’s a sight actually worth seeing. (Alliance Atlantis)