Movie remakes aren’t going away anytime soon and when it comes to horror remakes, well those will continue being made after the world blows up. As movie theaters start taking down the promotional material for the last horror remake “Black Christmas,” originally made in the 70’s the remake bombed this Christmas, they are putting up material for the 80’s horror film turned remake “The Hitcher.” Originally starring C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer this film came out at the peak years when picking up a hitchhiker was quite common. Now with the world vastly changed the premise of “The Hitcher” would have to be significantly revamped as people have become smarter. Sadly, “The Hitcher” is one film that was better made when hitchhiking was still a cool thing, since the remake takes the fun out of the original.
Jim and Grace (Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush) are headed up to Arizona to celebrate Spring Break. When they almost hit a lone man standing out in the middle of the road they think nothing of it until the same man finds them at a convenience store and asks for a ride. Jim, nice guy that he is agrees. John Ryder (Sean Bean) is his name and after he almost tries to kill the two kids the next 84 minutes is a constant game of cat and mouse where Jim and Grace have to fight to survive along with eluding the police who think they are responsible for mass murder.
The good thing is that “The Hitcher” definitely knows what to give the viewing public, blood and violence and this film delivers those in spades. Watching people get pulled apart by two truckers never gets old for the typical teen at the movies on a Friday night. Another plus is that instead of having Jim and Grace blindly agree to give John a ride, Grace is the voice of reason stating the obvious “people don’t stop for strangers.” At 84 minutes the movie also has a very brisk pace, knowing that you can only take this type of film so far for so long.
Sadly, the cons far outweigh the pros when it comes to this particular film. The original version of this film heavily relyed on psychological terror whereas this film doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it focuses on pretty people in danger with lots of blood and gore. Another issue with this film is one I had with another horror remake “When a Stranger Calls.” In that film they never even attempted to explain why the killer was terrorizing this young girl and “The Hitcher” pulls the same thing. Jim and Grace keep asking “what does he want” but nobody explains why he has slaughtered a family and an entire police station and why he’s terrorizing these young kids. While they never flesh out the murderous John Ryder they also never flesh out the characters of Grace and Jim. They just seem like your typical college lovebirds heading to Spring Break, they aren’t smarter or dumber than your typical student.
While the characters are very two dimensional the actors try to work with what they have. Sean Bean just seems to be taking jobs for the money nowadays, usually an amazing villain he is better as the more calculating villain like in “Don’t Say a Word.” Here he just seems over the top for no reason. I love actress Sophia Bush from “One Tree Hill” fame but I enjoy her films when she’s playing more of the quirky dippy girl with a heart of gold, here she is your standard horror movie eye candy. Newcomer Zachary Knighton is probably the weakest link in the cast, he is the one you yell at the most during the movie and he just isn’t that great of an actor.
“The Hitcher” is just one of those films that didn’t need to be remade, furthermore it really can’t be remade as American people have become smarter. With some more character development and resolution you could have had a halfway decent horror film, instead you get a hodgepodge of blood and gore leading to nothing that can’t wait for DVD.