By Fred Topel | Images property of Rogue Pictures.
The first great thrill ride of 2007 is here. The Hitcher starts quickly and never stops. He's always coming after them so even in a pause, you're just waiting for him to appear.
Movie Review: The Hitcher
College lovers Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush) are on their way to spring break when they smartly pass by a creepy hitchhiker (Sean Bean) in the middle of the road. But they run into him at a gas station and get pressured into helping him. Quickly, he goes Rutger Hauer on them and pursues them across highways, frames them for multiple murders and keeps chasing them.
Somehow, they made this couple of kids believable. They're not annoying. They're clearly in love but not cutesy. They have natural banter like people who have been together a while, so you actually don't want them to get killed. Bush's skirt and boots are distracting, in a good way, because you know you should be checking the scene for the hitcher but you're mesmerized by the calves.
Sean Bean is the terminator in this movie. It's his greatest villain role by far. He says very little but knows exactly what to do to raise hell. The scene where he takes out an entire police cavalcade including a helicopter is so thrilling I applauded. Okay, I knew the filmmakers were in the screening, but I would have anyway.
The story makes sense. They were smart enough not to pick him up. He breaks their cell phone so they can't just call for help. Every situation he puts them in follows so they're really screwed. There are one or two bonehead moves ("I'll be back in 15 minutes," seriously?) but they've done so much right they can get a pass or two.
There are jump scares but in all the right places. They come when we're expecting it, not cheating with random surprises, but finding ways to top our expectations. There is one big boom that is just so outrageous it's awesome.
It seems people are holding the original Hitcher as some Hitchcockian classic of such high standards that a remake must not taint. Ruter Hauer was good in it but it wasn't such a psychological masterwork.
This Hitcher runs a tight 80 minutes full of massive destruction and satisfyingly inevitable gore. Dare I say it's sickly brilliant and twistedly clever?