I just came back from the 4:30PM screening and a margarita or two afterwards. Review under the cut, no spoilers at all, so read ahead.
Have you ever passed a hitchhiker by on a deserted highway, wondering silently whether to stop and give him a ride, or just drive on and feel guilty afterwards? Did you drive on, coming up with a million justifications for your lack of willingless to help out a fellow human being? If the answer is 'Yes!', then, according to what I saw today you've done exactly the right thing.
I went to see the movie without any preconceived notions. I read a critic's review or two, and decided to ignore them. I even chose to ignore the fact that Sean was in the movie, and surprisingly, it happened much easier than it's possible to imagine. But, more on that later. Armed with a large can of popcorn and a Diet Coke, I sat down in the darkness and prepared to see what I thought would be an extended version of one of the many trailers and TV advertising spots that we've all been watching for the last few weeks.
The Movie: I would not class The Hitcher as a horror movie. It's rather more of a suspense thriller, and a pretty damn fine one at that. The folks who prepared the trailers for it gave us a non-linear glimpse at the movie, and really nothing more than that. Only when you're sitting at the theater and watch the storyline unfold, do you realize just how little you got to see before. The tempo of the movie is near damn perfect - just as you relax enough to take a breather, something happens that makes you sit up straight again. The makers of The Hitcher certainly did not copy the original storyline word-by-word. Instead, they chose to make a very much updated version of the John Ryder character, and paired him with other characters that are both modern and oddly familiar. What else can I say - it's The Hitcher 2007.
Sean: Here's the biggest kicker of the movie - it's a production that most probably will crush many a Sean fangirl's faith in humanity. If you are a fan who considers Sean this unearthly being with angelic qualities, skip watching this movie in order to preserve your dreams. I am not trying to be mean, there's a reason for me saying the above. Somewhere around the first 30 minutes of the movie, Sean Bean the actor disappears from the screen. All that's left is John Ryder, the psychotic killer with no past, with his motives known as little as his origins. Sean pulls of a magnificent performance in this movie, and one that may just leave you with all sorts of wrong shivers going down your spine. His portrayal of John Ryder is pure, controlled evil - nothing more and nothing less.
Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush: Kudos to both of them. In my opinion, they both gave their best and you can see it on the big screen. I think they make a very believeable couple, and both of them deserve to be recognized for their work. If you see the movie, you will also notice an absolutely eerie (and at times, scary) chemistry between Sean and Sophia. The chemistry is obviously very one sided, but some of the wordless exchanges between those two make you want to surround Sophia with a batallion of Marines for her own protection.
Neal McDonough: Lieutenant Esteridge steals nearly every scene that he's in. I think of all of the actors in the movie, I enjoyed his performance the most. He's got a very commanding presence, and it's not hard to imagine him walking the streets of some real town in New Mexico, with a badge on his belt and a pistol on his hip. A true stunner.
Soundtrack: Now, here's what I also liked quite a bit. There are moments in the movie, where the music folds so neatly with what's on the screen that you feel as if you were in the middle of the action, instead of sitting in a chair at the theater. I loved the music and will certainly buy the soundtrack once it comes out. It was certainly refreshing to hear that the makes of The Hitcher did not fall into the usual horror movie convention of gothic\organs\gregorian chant type music, but instead they picked up a soundtrack that is at times eerie, and at times a little bit more so.
Yes, I did like the movie, very much so. I did see the original movie a while ago, and I still remember that it scared the everliving crap out of me. The Hitcher 2007 did not scare me that much. But, as I was walking to the parking lot in the rain, trying to locate my truck, I couldn't help but look around and make sure that there was not a tall figure in a dark coat standing somewhere close, his thumb extended in an attempt at hitching a ride. I think that is the best testament to the great work everyone did on The Hitcher.
I hope you do give this movie a chance, and go see it without preconceptions and after carefully ignoring opinions of other people. You may just find it as intriguing as I did.
Edited To Add: Ladies, this will be screencapping heaven once it's out on DVD.