DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

The Hitcher



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</script></div>{/googleAds}What's behind this incessant horror remake business? Money, of course. And what better product to continue the growth of Michael Bay's money-making, horror schlock laboratory than another cheaply produced, poorly executed thriller/horror remake that will undoubtedly draw from the plentiful pockets of today's voracious horror fan? Bay's Platinum Dunes production company saw success (at the box office anyway) with its first three movies The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and hopes to ride that same green wave with The Hitcher, a remake of the 1986 road thriller of the same name. But here's where the remake thinking goes a bit astray. If you're going to repurpose a thriller from yesteryear, pick a good one. Robert Harmon's version that starred Rutger Hauer is being called a classic but I don't remember it that way.

What's common to both films is the basic premise. On a road trip, a man picks up a hitchhiker who turns out to be a cunning but dangerous serial killer with more lives than Keith Richards. Both films spend the majority of the runtime as a cat-and-mouse thriller with plenty of blood and tons of fast-paced action. But where the original thrived on its nightmarish stylishness and the ghoulish fear generated by an almost supernatural villain, first time director Dave Meyers' version feels like a film school 101 paint-by-numbers exercise. It's an overly loud and rambunctious music video that never slows down long enough for the anemic plot to catch up, much less for us to catch our breath.

The skill in making these kinds of movies lies in a director's ability to dovetail nail-biting action with carefully scripted moments of dialogue and character development. But here we're never given the opportunity to get to know any of the characters and the action is never really all that thrilling. The spectacular car crashes and horrific mutilations are just flashy stunts and cool cosmetic tricks piled on top of one another rather than intensity-building events that lead to a purposeful climax. I will admit that one scene was handled quite well however. A car that falls suddenly from the cliffs above, effectively demonstrates the idea that our villain is still wreaking havoc even though he's not in the frame. Nice touch.

Sean Bean, who played Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is John Ryder, the mysterious hitchhiker that preys on the kindness of good Samaritans Jim and Grace (Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush respectively), who reluctantly decide to give him a ride to the next town. Bad decision. Didn't these two learn anything from what their mother always told them about picking up strangers?

Bean's Ryder is a dark and noirish character just as he was in the original. But since we're never given any quality time with him, Bean's version comes off as more silly than menacing. With no motive for his killings, he's a reckless animal that can strike anyone at any moment. And he does. In fact, all energy and nervous anticipation is sapped from the movie before its halfway point as we've become accustomed to guessing where he'll pop up next like a whack-a-mole.

On the other hand, considering what the film intended to be, calculating for the intended audience, and realizing the production company behind it, I suppose The Hitcher did what it set out to do. It wanted to be an action-packed, thrill ride of a date-movie, with loads of gratuitous blood, cheap gore and startling, jump-out-of-your-seat moments. And it was that. But I'm fairly certain that even the film's bloodthirsty target audience will agree, there's still not enough payoff for the time we invest in the film, even at a scant 83 minutes. While the original was not that good to begin with, it still managed to scare up a few more genuine thrills and frightening chills than this impersonal exhibition of how to line up movie characters like dominoes and knock them down in gruesome ways.


DVD

DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; deleted scenes; making-of featurettes;

* Featurettes -
o "Dead End" (13:09)
o "Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash" (10:02)
o "Fuel Your Fear: The Making of 'The Hitcher'" (10:56)
o "Chronicles of a Killer" (4:37)
* Deleted Scenes - eight scenes that didn't make the final cut (22:56 total)

Number of discs: - 1 disc set with Keepcase Packaging.{pgomakase}

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