The Hitcher (2007)
“Never pick up strangers.”
Director: Dave Meyers
Cast: Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton
Synopsis: A serial killer pins his crimes on two college students who gave him a ride.
In Dave Meyer’s version of The Hitcher, Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) and Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) are a couple of college students in lerrve, who take a road trip across the New Mexico desert to join her friends for spring break. During a torrential rainstorm, they pass a broken down car in the middle of nowhere, and narrowly avoid mowing down its driver. In a service station a few miles further down the road, Jim runs into the driver, who introduces himself as John Ryder (Sean Bean — Ca$h, Cleanskin), and feels obliged to offer him a lift to the nearest motel, much to Grace’s discomfort. Of course it’s not long before their passenger begins acting in a worryingly intimidating fashion, and its only through a stroke of luck that they manage to eject him from the car before he can inflict any serious injuries upon them. Needless to say, however, they haven’t seen the last of John Ryder…
The Hitcher might be a needless remake of an ‘80s classic, but it still manages to generate a fair degree of tension as its deadly game of cat and mouse unfolds. Jim Halsey makes a rather sweaty, unprepossessing hero even before his day starts getting stressful and one can’t help thinking he’s punching way above his weight by dating the luscious Grace. But, unlike in the 1986 version, it isn’t the man who’s the hero, which makes you wonder about the reasons behind writers Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt’s decision to turn Jim Halsey into the male equivalent of the damsel in distress. Ryder has him running around like a kitten after a ball of string, and it’s only after Jim becomes hopelessly compromised that Grace eventually assumes hero duties. Sophia Bush does a convincing job in the part, although even she isn’t able to overcome an overblown finale that sees her mutating into some kind of female warrior practically walking through fire while toting a pump-action shotgun. Sean Bean looks suitably menacing as the mysterious figure who seems to exist purely to kill anyone unlucky enough to cross his path, and even manages a reasonable American accent.
The 2007 version of The Hitcher isn’t as good as the original, but it comes pretty close for a while and should entertain fans of the horror/thriller genre.
(Reviewed 18th October 2014)