By: John Defore
I get it: You need to see another horror remake like you need a hole in the head. The assortment of recently reincarnated J-horror flicks (The Ring, The Grudge), revamped Wes Craven movies (The Hills Have Eyes), and other new takes on old classics (Dawn of the Dead, The Amityville Horror, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) may have you at scary movie-viewing capacity. But if you’ve still got one in you, 2007 has already brought its own offering: music-video director Dave Meyers’ re-imagining of 1986’s The Hitcher. All ye easily frightened and weak-stomached, take heart; if I can make it through with my eyes open, so can you.
(I should qualify that by saying I missed most of Silent Hill and From Hell, much of Scream, and even a little of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, because I had my face buried in my hands.)
More shocking than my embarrassingly low tolerance for blood and guts is that and it pains me to say this The Hitcher update is kind of good. Not great, but Meyers’ definitely improves on the original. While it is significantly gorier than its previous incarnation, it isn’t exploitative, and the suspense factor is much higher. It also retains the gravelly, desert-swept look of the first, only with phenomenal color. Of course, the most pivotal and successful deviation from the ’86 version is the inclusion of a more crucial female character.
Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) is no longer driving cross-country alone he’s on a Spring-Break excursion with his girlfriend, Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush of One Tree Hill fame). After nearly running down a mysterious hitchhiker in the rain, Grace orders Jim not to turn back and pick him up. But it isn’t long before they encounter the hitchhiker, John Ryder (Sean Bean), again in a gas station, and trusting Jim agrees to give him a lift. Ryder is not who he seems, and the young lovers soon find themselves navigating a highway of terror.
Naturally, Grace looks like she walked out of an Abercrombie & Fitch ad. Because of that, you may expect, as I did (and it’s one of the reasons I often dislike the horror genre), The Hitcher to continue the trend of sexualizing brutal violence perpetrated on women. However, while there is a kind of sexual tension between Grace and Ryder, it merely mimics the unrealized sexual tension between Jim and Rutger Hauer’s Ryder in the ’86 Hitcher (without the unwanted implication that homosexuals are psychotic predators).
The Hitcher would have been considerably less fun to watch without the talents of Sean Bean on hand. (You might say Sean Bean is to The Hitcher what Philip Seymour Hoffman is to Mission: Impossible III … an excuse for watching, dare I say enjoying, a possibly-worthless movie.) Bean gives Ryder credibility not only because he acts well, but because Bean possesses a pleasant-but-forgettable visage that’s so well-suited for a character who can only get his kicks after lulling others into complacency.
Bean’s performance causes us to reach the same moral conclusion most horror movies ask us to (and maybe it’s what makes them so enduring): When you meet evil in the flesh, aim for the head.
©San Antonio Current 2007
Movie Review: The Hitcher
'The Hitcher' should just take a hike
By Norris Ortolano
Sean Bean is the menacing hitcher John Ryder in
Photo by Van Redin
Sean Bean is the menacing hitcher John Ryder in "The Hitcher."
Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, Kyle Davis, Neal McDonough
Director, Dave Meyers; Writers, Jake Wade Wall, Eric Bernt
Being my favorite genre, I tend to hold horror movies -- or at least the dribble studios try to pass off as horror movies -- to a high standard. With that said, horror movies should feature grizzly deaths, buckets of blood and a villain who haunts your dreams until you’re 30.
They should not be overloaded with clichés and naked women or receive a PG-13 rating. Also, classic horror films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Hills Have Eyes,” “The Fog.” and finally, “The Hitcher” should never, under any circumstances, be remade.
In fact, this “Hitcher” remake is an education into things that should be avoided when making a modern horror movie.
Note to filmmakers: What worked in the ’70s does not necessarily work today.
In this story, our heroes Jim (Zachary Knighton)and Grace(Sophia Bush)must make it through the very scary and dangerous state of New Mexico to reach their desired spring break spot. However, when they decide to be decent American citizens and pick up a hitchhiker whose car has broken down in a rainstorm, they pay dearly for the next hour and 23 minutes.
This has got to be one of the few movies in which doing the moral thing might actually get you killed. What happened to the old days when a horror movie was actually a political message pointing out some flaw of society?
Even though this movie seemed to have no redeeming quality, Jon Ryder, played masterfully by Sean Bean, did impress me. If you thought Rutger Hauer was creepy in the original version of this film, you will not be disappointed with Sean Bean’s performance. His character was sadistic, sinister and downright evil.
Aside from Bean, I wasn’t impressed with any of the other actors. Their dialogue was weak, though typical of the horror genre.
Although there was a nice amount of blood and one especially cool but highly improbable death scene, “The Hitcher” is not worth your time or money. The same exact plot is featured in about 25 other movies, maybe more.
With the Oscars right around the corner, it’s a great week to catch up on films that are actually good.
Posted on Wed, Jan. 24, 2007
Please, ditch 'The Hitcher'
By Ignatious Schiavo Weekender Correspondent
A young couple’s spring break road trip goes from glory to gory in this week’s thriller "The Hitcher."
Lake Havasu is a prime hot spot on the spring break destination chart and young James (Zachary Knighton) and his gal Grace (Sophia Bush) are primed to get rolling and get in the swing of spring breaking. They pile into his Olds 442 and careen off into the southwestern sunset.
While rolling on through in a driving rain , the two narrowly miss a stranger standing in the middle of the road. The frazzled twosome leave the man standing alone, in the middle of nowhere, in the rain and make haste toward what they assume to be safer pastures - an incorrect assumption on their part.
Later at a desolate gas station, the two are embarrassingly introduced to Mr. John Ryder (Sean Bean), the stranger they passed, and make it up by giving him a ride to a nearby motel. Once they are under way, however, Ryder's Average Joe demeanor quickly accelerates to knife-wielding psycho. The two narrowly escape Ryder but soon learn they are his latest quarry and the game he has in mind will find the spring break duo prime suspects in a slew of grotesque homicides as well as being prey to a methodical, seemingly unstoppable madman.
Can the two find a way to escape the nightmare that is "The Hitcher?"
Very rarely does a remake live up to or, heaven forbid, surpass the original. And after sitting gape mouthed through this disorienting half-assed music video / weak thriller I can attest that no film I have ever suffered through lends credence to that statement quite like this farce.
Director Dave Meyers needs to have the difference between a three minute video and a 90 minute feature explained to him. There was no semblance of cohesion anywhere this film. The dialogue was laughable, the characters unidentifiable and the flow so completely rushed I thought the flick would clock in at 42 minutes. In retrospect, I wish it had.
Meyers wasn't even able to follow the formula. Happy kids + isolated wasteland + sociopath = unhappy partially naked, blood covered kids. Just look at any of the recent "horror" endeavors (Chainsaw, Wrong Turn, Wax, Hills/ Eyes, Hostel, Turistas) and you'll see it glaring right back at you. At film’s end this I was sure of: Meyers's true talent lies in his ability to bore one to bloody tears while they witness dismemberment and explosions all set to a pounding soundtrack. One thing I did learn is that Sean Bean bears an eerie resemblance to more attractive Rutger Hauer. Hey gimme credit, I’m trying here.
I can't really recommend this one to anyone past the 15 and 16 year olds that are dying to sneak into the Cineplex and catch this "scary" movie. Their lack of a point of reference might actually allow them to find a degree of entertainment somewhere along the way. As for the rest of us, go out and rent the original and see the text-book reason for not picking up hitch-hikers in its original glory. The only truly scary part about any of this is how long are we going to allow Hollywood to laugh at us while we continue to buy its sophomoric crap? Oh goody, look … a preview for Hostel II.