Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scenes; Dead End; Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash; Fuel Your Fear – The Making Of The Hitcher; Chronicles Of A Killer.
THE Hitcher continues the trend for remaking classic horror movies with diminishing returns.
Created by Platinum Dunes, the company responsible for both The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror remakes, the film finds Sean Bean hitching the ride that Rutger Hauer first thumbed way back in 1986.
But while Robert Harmon’s cult original featured an intriguing central dynamic between Hauer’s mystical psychopath and C Thomas Howell’s hapless victim, Dave Meyers’ “re-imagining” claims to opt for a more realistic approach.
It’s a shame, then, that the film sets off on such a bad foot with a CGI rabbit being run over while crossing the road and – moments later – another CGI insect being squashed on a windscreen…
The plot remains virtually the same but has been revised to include two potential victims in the form of young couple Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton).
En route to spring break, they unwittingly cross paths with Bean’s violent hitchhiker, John Ryder, who draws them into an increasingly sinister game that leads to a desperate battle for survival.
The main problem with Meyers’ film is that it just doesn’t bring anything new to either its predecessor or the horror genre in general.
Attempts to make Ryder more human remove a lot of the mystery surrounding him, while his young victims conform to just about every standard horror movie cliche (right down to an obligatory scene involving Bush running around in her underwear).
Much of what was scary about the original is replaced by a sense of over familiarity, especially if you’ve seen the 1986 version, and a lot of the scares are hopelessly telegraphed. Key scenes are replayed almost shot for shot (and word for word), which feels especially pointless.
Bean, for his part, manages to look menacing but struggles to convince with a dodgy American accent, and Bush and Knighton make for lacklustre heroes given the lack of identity they’re able to impress on their characters.
The director does manage to stage a few spectacular car crashes and throws in the odd jump but, in the main, this is a redundant experience that really isn’t worth picking up.
Indeed, the scariest thing to emerge from the experience comes during the opening credits, which reveal that an estimated 42,000 people are killed each year on America’s highways. Now that sends a shiver down the spine…
Running time: 90mins