Reel Reviews | The Hitcher

by Tim Gordon

Let me say for the record that I’m not a big fan of horror films. In fact they’re probably my least favorite genre to watch.

I was never a fan of films that wanted to scare me just for the cheap thrill. I thought films were much scarier when they left a little to the imagination instead of showing all of the blood and gore. Based on the 1986 cult film with the same title, The Hitcher once again demonstrates the desperate and sad shape Hollywood is in that it continues to recycle bad movies for a new generation.

The film tells the story of a young couple Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton), on their way to meet friends during spring break. They are looking forward to a week of fun and friendship unaware of pending disaster. While driving down a rainy highway, they almost hit a mysterious hitchhiker John Ryder, a.k.a. The Hitcher (Sean Bean) standing in the road. Jim wants to get out to check if Ryder is alright and with wisdom seldom uttered in films, Grace screams, “People don’t pick up strangers.” With that, they burn wet rubber and are safe, momentarily.

Apparently, Ryder has read the script and knows he has plenty of time to terrorize this young couple and does he with a casual, twisted and almost indifferent gusto (we’ll get to that later). He talks his way into their car and before they can get comfortable he goes coo coo crazy. He threatens to kill them both before they can eject him from their moving car. Guess since Ryder destroyed one cellphone and took the other, they can’t contact the police either. Hell, why would they? Who would believe them anyway?

Just when it appears they have avoided our crazy friend, like Ray-J, he resurfaces once again to dispose of a poor family leaving our clueless couple to once again take the blame. Over and over, the Hitcher kills and Grace/Jim are charged. You would think eventually, like the audience, they would figure this out. One would have figured wrong.

Bean as The Hitcher seems to sleepwalk his way through the film, at times almost appearing bored. It was if he finally realized – too late — that he’s cashed the studio’s check and now has to go through with some performance. Grace and Jim are just faceless victims, the message that they could be any random young white couple in danger.

If you have plans to catch a movie this weekend and you think this may be the one, save your time and your money and just go to your local video store – and rent the original!

Grade: F