The Hitcher Review

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Remake of the classic 1986 Rutger Hauer horror film. While driving on an American desert highway, two college students pick up a hitchhiker. It doesn't take long for them to discover he's a maniac, but their troubles are just beginning.


There’s a big twist near the end of Dave Meyers’ lame update of 1986’s cult hit that the producers presumably hoped would justify the remake. Instead, it turns out the solitary new idea in an otherwise carbon-copy rehash is just plain insane (clue: it involves two trucks).

It’s a misstep that’s symptomatic of a production that seems to have misjudged all of its inspiration’s strengths. Instead of a lone, vulnerable driver (the original’s C. Thomas Howell) being stalked by a quite possibly supernatural angel of death (the first film’s terrifying Rutger Hauer), we now have a plastic young couple (Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush) up against a by-the-numbers nutter (a bored-looking Sean Bean). Instead of the pervading sense of peril and sexual ambiguity that permeated Robert Harmon’s version, a complete lack of suspense, some poorly executed deaths and a heroine whose way of coping with being stalked by a serial killer appears to be randomly stripping off to her tiny pants.

Indeed, it’s in one such scene that The Hitcher 2007 most carelessly lets its mask slip. Bush, presumably a bit tired from all that running about in her skimpies, lies down on her motel-room bed for a nap (like you do when there’s a mass murderer after you). The TV in the corner is on, Hitchcock’s The Birds flickering out into the dark. What’s this? A neat echo of the harrowing claustrophobia she’s feeling? A knowing wink to the Master Of Suspense himself? Or more to do with the fact that Platinum Dunes (The Hitcher’s production company) are next working on a remake of… you guessed it, The Birds? Talk about product placement.

How much all of the above will frustrate you depends in part on your affinity with The Hitcher Mk. 1. But even those who have not been privy to its particular, haunting charms will here struggle to see what all the fuss was about in the first place. Adequately polished it may be, with just about enough gore, guns and flesh to satisfy the undemanding, but ultimately — much like Dunes’ recent revamp of Amityville — this pointless update manages the spectacular double-feat of offering nothing new and seriously mismanaging the old. And doesn’t even have the decency to keep that great bit with the finger in the chips. Criminal.

A depressingly formulaic reworking of a unique cult favourite that should have been left well alone. Stick with Rutger.