Even in 1986, The Hitcher‘s cautionary tale about the perils of picking up roadside strangers—a rebuke to the preceding flower-power generation’s trusting altruism—was largely outdated, its point having already been made more forcefully a full decade earlier by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At least music video vet Dave Myers’s remake is smart enough to recognize that only nitwit 20-year-olds and devout Christian families might still be liable to offer hitchhikers a ride, though that acknowledgement doesn’t stop this Michael Bay-produced update from being just as wholesale ridiculous as its source material, which itself is chiefly memorable for letting Rutger Hauer furiously fly his psycho freak flag. For this do-over, Sean Bean turns out to be a suitable Hauer replacement, as the blond Englishman is similarly adept at cold-hearted, sadistic nastiness, yet his madman’s supernatural villainy is the prime component in the film’s across-the-board nonsensicality. Abercrombie-sexy couple Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush) have their Spring Break vacation ruined after reluctantly giving a lift to stranded motorist John Ryder (Bean), who quickly establishes himself as a monster intent on tormenting the duo—and slaughtering any cop that gets in his way—until they agree to kill him. Or, at least, that’s what Ryder’s motive seems to be, since the screenplay’s overriding preoccupation with setting up implausible scenarios via moronic character behavior prevents it from ever properly explaining what Ryder’s problem is. The fiend repeatedly accomplishes unbelievable feats of evil while Jim and Grace make every wrong decision afforded by their situation, a state of affairs that, despite Myers’s jolt tactics, leads to no scares but to a couple of lunatic set pieces, the finest of which finds Ryder taking out three patrol cars and a police helicopter with a single handgun while driving a black Trans Am to the sound of Nine Inch Nails’s “Closer.” Nonetheless, the slickly shot film’s scripting is so deliberately illogical and its performances are so blandly forgettable that it almost makes one miss the original’s C. Thomas Howell…if, that is, it were humanely possible to miss C. Thomas Howell.
- Rogue Pictures
- 84 min
- Dave Myers
- Eric Red, Jake Wade Wall, Eric Bernt
- Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, Neal McDonough
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: