The Hitcher

MSRP: $29.98
RUNNING TIME: 84 Minutes
Deleted scenes
Behind-the-scenes featurettes

The Pitch

and Jerry
meets Halloween!"

The Humans

"Gravitas" Bean, Sophia "Hot Republican" Bush, Zachary
"Who?" Knighton.

The Nutshell

For the
love of god, don’t pick up hitchhikers! In the grand tradition of the recent
remakes of When A Stranger Calls, Black Christmas, House
of Wax
, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, modern teen icons are sent into a
well-worn gauntlet of horrors with nothing much at the end to entice them

"Is this a dagger I see before me?"
"Stick to the script, Sean."

The Lowdown

I hadn’t
given this project much mind until the announcement came along that Sean Bean
would be playing the psychopath made famous in the original by Rutger Hauer. I’ve
got something of a Sean Bean fixation. I rooted more for him than almost anyone
else in Silent Hill, second only to Pyramid Head. His name sold me a
copy of Equilibrium, back before I knew about CHUD. My wife has put a
standing ban on my speaking any sentences that begin with: "One does not
simply walk into . . . ."

why it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, in my estimation, Sean Bean is the
best thing about The Hitcher remake. Amazing, isn’t it? A veteran and gifted
actor is the best thing about a movie with a ridiculous plot, absent
motivation, schizophrenic intentions, and wretched pacing. Even if I weren’t
aware of Sean Bean, I have a feeling I’d feel a sympathetic attachment to him after
watching The Hitcher, just because I would need something to latch on to.

Poor Red-Handed Jill the Ghost, cursed to be eternally left hangin’ on a high-five.

criticisms of this thing aren’t even my usual high-falutin’ structuralist junk;
I don’t like The Hitcher because it isn’t any fun. I loved the Biel-full
remake of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, because it knew what it was: a
flashy, tense chase sequence on a cushion of gore. The Hitcher can’t decide
whether it wants to be an action flick or a cat-and-mouse stalk picture or a
revenge tragedy. Where the original skirts the edge of the slasher genre, the
remake ducks in and out of cubby-holes like a retard driver. That’s not a good
thing; that’s not "genre-bending." It’s pure sloppy writing.

those times when it decides it wants to be a thriller, The Hitcher is so poorly
plotted that the tension just bleeds away. Our heroes (Bush and Knighton) meet
up with some people; Sean Bean kills them. More people are met; Sean Bean kills
them, too. The kids meet an entire police department; Sean Bean wreaks havoc
upon them all, including shooting down
their fucking helicopter
. Then he kills them. The predictability ruins any
chance at sustained intensity.

doesn’t help matters that the character motivations are well-blended and come
out as a soup of ambiguous intention. John Ryder (Bean) receives a psychopaths justification
for his actions, which works in the original, but falls flat here thanks to the
clumsy attempts to engender the audience’s sympathy for the devil. Introducing
heady concepts such as externalization of suicidal tendencies, or the root of
ethical (as opposed to moral) dilemmas, has the unfortunate effect of losing an
audience. It draws light to the film’s deficiencies, while allowing an avenue
for the audience to get themselves distracted in completely different thoughts.

Poor guy was tossed out of the Arts and Crafts movement
for excessive creativity in choice of medium.

For its
dumb action movie sequences, The Hitcher has much less that
requires forgiveness. The car chase that closes out the second act, set to Nine
Inch Nails’ "Closer," is delightful cheese; and explosions a-plenty
pepper the whole thing. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster aesthetic, with the
stitches between different directorial moods clearly visible.

What I
mean to say is that The Hitcher is kind of a butterface; there are portions of its
body that bear ogling, but ‘er face just doesn’t fit, mostly because it’s
unclear what kind of face the public is supposed to see.

(Not you,
Sean Bean. Don’t you never change.)

"Hold me back another year, will they?"

The Package

bonuses start up with a long list of deleted scenes. Most of these are the sort
that give you a whole extra few frames of a corpse swinging, or a different
angle of the telephone; but the alternate ending is actually worth watching for
being quite a bit more brutal than anything leading up to it.

There are
featurettes for behind-the-scenes info, and specifically for the stunts and FX
required for the car chase I mentioned above. Pretty standard stuff.

also a fun and low-key background info on the makeup effects used for the
ripping in half of a certain character by way of eighteen-wheelers.

The last
bonus is actually one that I’ve often idly wished for: the full newsreels that
play in the background during certain scenes. Usually, those pieces are shot as
full reels, and then edited to fit the scene; now you can see the whole movie
through the filter of a faux news network!

4 out of 10