Friday, March 9, 2007


Having never seen the original, I can come at this with a clean slate. And on that clean slate, I write…

Horror movies being the home away from home for today’s teen TV show stars, One Tree Hill’s Sophia Bush (who also appeared in the lame horror-video-game-come-to-life film, Stay Alive) finds herself terrorized by Boromir himself, Sean Bean, in Dave Meyers’ remake of The Hitcher.
Along with her boyfriend, Jim (Zachary Knighton), Bush’s Grace is hounded by a deranged psychopath the couple crosses paths with on a drive through the deserts of New Mexico.

Grace’s penchant for long bathroom breaks (conveniently established within minutes of the film’s opening) becomes the unlikely reason for all the terror these college kids are about to endure.
Sadly though, once the terror begins there isn’t much tension to keep the audience captivated, and, as if to pour salt on that already gaping wound, Bean is totally wasted in this production. Normally, he’s able to bring a palpable presence to the characters he plays, regardless of screen time. In The Hitcher though, despite playing the title role, Bean does not register at all; there isn’t really much for him to do except run around and make Grace and Jim’s lives a living hell.

Not even Nine Inch Nails (whose music plays during Bean’s most improbable stunt in the entire film) can save this dud. It’s the kind of movie where the characters can actually have a shower together while a maniac incessantly stalks them.

It’s also one of those bizarrely feminist horror films where the men are ultimately impotent when the chips are down, and the heroine does a last-second Ripley (or a Sarah Connor, take your pick of sci-fi pin up girl) and kicks stalker a$$ with knife or chainsaw or gun (or whatever weapon is readily available). However, beyond her baby’s bladder, we don’t know much more about Grace as an individual for us to fully appreciate the change she undergoes. For all the audience knows, she was a closet Ramboette to begin with.

After directing Eddie Griffin in Foolish, Dave Meyers made a name for himself in the music video world, and his work should be familiar to most of today’s youth through his clips for Britney Spears (“Lucky”), Missy Elliott (“Get Ur Freak On”), and Creed (“My Sacrifice” and “With Arms Wide Open”), to name a few. Now Meyers becomes the latest in a long line of music video directors making the difficult transition to the big screen.

But directing a 3 and a half minute video is one thing. Helming a feature film on the other hand, is a whole different ball game in an entirely different league, a ball game Meyers doesn’t seem to know how to play very well. (Having never seen Foolish, I can’t really say whether the feature film has always been his Waterloo.)

There is nothing here that actually gets the audience involved and invested in the action onscreen. It’s just an hour and a half of Bush and Knighton running (and driving) around New Mexico while being chased by Bean (and the cops!).
And while The Hitcher manages to evade the gore-soaked territory of films like Wolf Creek and Haute Tension, it doesn’t replace the lack of grue with any excitement either. (Despite a needless plot flip, Alexandre Aja’s Haute Tension is actually an excellent example of a film with both the gore of an in-your-face, grindhouse horror flick, and the taut, razor-edged suspense of an A-grade thriller.)

The Hitcher (like the recent Turistas, which is sort of like Hostel without the gore or the excitement) is yet another bland entry in the annals of modern horror cinema.

One important thing to note in this sad and sorry mess is that The Hitcher is the latest of Platinum Dunes’ remakes which doesn’t hit the mark at all. Dunes—which has director Michael Bay as its backbone—has been responsible for the recent Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and its prequel, as well as the remake of The Amityville Horror.

Now, it’s forgivable when a remake isn’t quite as good as the original, when said original is a classic, as is the case with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But even when there’s a lot of room for improvement, as with The Amityville Horror, Bay and company still manage to bungle it somehow. The Hitcher is just another nail in this particular coffin.

It’s sad though that there are still more remakes slated to emerge from Platinum Dunes’ gates, including one of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (blasphemy, I tell you!).

But, despite all of my issues with it, to be perfectly fair to Bush, Bay, Meyers, and company, I did learn something from The Hitcher: if you’re driving down a lonely desert road, and have the urge to help a stranger in distress, DON’T.

Oh, and one more thing: learn to control your bladder.

(The Hitcher OS courtesy of

(Originally posted 021007)

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