Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Hitcher (2007)

Fear 1/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 2/5

At its heart, the premise of The Hitcher sounds like a winner: a girl and her boyfriend are trekking across country, the plan being to meet up with friends for vacation. But instead of reaching their destination, they come across a serial killer who initially holds them captive. They escape, only to have him track them down at every twist and turn as they try to navigate through the New Mexico back country. Sounds like the makeup for a great horror/thriller, no? At times, the film does have some truly tense moments. However, it was bogged down by one too many instances that make you scream 'Why are you doing that?' (i.e., a killer is chasing you, why are you stopping at a hotel and bumping uglies?). Not too mention the preference for CGI over practical effects and a hilariously laugh out loud, Rambo-esque scene in which the film instantly loses all credibility.

On the first day, the young couple make their way along an interstate, rolling along through a heavy storm later on that night. They almost run over a man who's standing in the road, his car having broken down on the side. After spinning out and restarting their stalled car, they both decide not to go back and help the man out. Afterall, its late, its raining and who wants to meet the broadside of an axe? We've seen that movie before, right?

Stopping at a gas station to refuel and grab some comida, they uncomfortably meet the man face to face as he's now caught up with them. Gee Wally, he must be a track star in his spare time! Presenting himself as a nice family man, he suckers, er I mean convinces, the boyfriend to a hitch a ride with them to the next town so he can get a motel for the night. Its not long before he whips out a knife as they continue driving and plays a dangerous 'Will it be her or you?' game with the boyfriend. He slams on the brakes, the man's head hitting the dash and the girl assists in climbing over the back seat, opening the passenger side door with the boyfriend kicking him out of the car. They then proceed to 'Why are you doing that?' moment #1: they pull off the side of the road and fall asleep for the night.

Waking up and heading out next morning, they drive past a family in a Griswald mobile (AKA station wagon) and notice that they've picked up a rider. They attempt to pull alongside the car and warn the family about the whacko in the back seat. Instead, they are run off the road by a truck, and smash into a tree. Surprisingly, they get out relatively unscathed and start walking along the interstate, eventually catching up to the car only to find the family slaughtered. They hop in the station wagon and start cruising along again, the boyfriend trying in vain to save the husband as he's still alive, blood gushing from his chest. They soon pull off when they see a local diner. The girlfriend runs inside, begging a waitress to call for help. The police quickly show up and arrest the both of them, believing that they are the main perpetrators.

The young couple attempt to explain their situation about the madman that's following them to the police officers at the station. With words falling on deaf ears, the boyfriend is locked up, the girlfriend facing more one on one, intense scrutiny. The whacked out guy catches up again, making quick work of all the officers at the station. The couple escapes on foot and hole themselves up in a junkyard nearby. The head sheriff discovers the grizzly scene at the station and promptly dispatchs more officers. One of which, finds the kids at said scrap pile establishment. The kids make a getaway, stealing his car with the killer again having tracked them down and he waxes the copper, making it look as though it was the kid's handiwork.

The cat and mouse game continues as the killer catches up to the couple in the police car, hauling ass in a 1970's Trans Am. Cue Nine Inch Nails, the dude taking out four squad cars and a helicopter a la Rambo. This went from taute horror/thriller to full-on action adventure in the span of about 2.5 seconds. Enter 'Why are you doing that?' moment #2: the kids escape yet again and take refuge in a hotel. They make boom boom fucky fucky and pass out, giving ample opportunity for the killer to AGAIN catch up to them.

Are you tired yet? I am, so I'm wrapping up this review pronto: the killer offs the boyfriend (the best scene in the film as he's tied to two sections of a semi, with him acting as the link between both the trailer and truck, and the truck pulls away, tearing him in half), the cops capture both the girl and the killer, and we find out that he is a serial killer. When he's asked why he's done what he's done, he simply responds with 'Why not?' Instead of it being a complete gut punching shocker (see The Strangers for a similar, much more highly effective film moment), we get a complete dud, as you really couldn't care less at this point. I know I mentioned CGI but I don't really feel like explaining that aspect of the film other than saying it cheapened the whole affair. A final standoff also occurs between the girl and the killer but even then, its hard to give two shits and you just want to be done with it.

In the end, a terrible film that had loads of potential but didn't deliver. Don't pick up The Hitcher.

Cortez The Killer

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Andre said...

I'm glad I opted for the original of this. As much as I have a girl crush on Sophia Bush I knew this was going to be a fail. The original is kind of awesome. and it's the girl that gets killed by the 2 semi's.....faaaantastic.

Emily said...

I haaaaaaated this remake with a passion. I'm not normally one of those intense automatic remake haters, but this is the prime example of what not to do. By making the hunted a couple instead of a loner, the film loses most of the desperation, plus all the draw of why Ryder is chasing the protagonist(s) in the first place. The original had this wonderfully suggestive undertone, where you almost wondered if Hauer was after the lead because he was so disgusted by the perceived unmanliness of his hunted. In the remake, there was absolutely no motivation for why Sean Bean (dreadfully wasted) was so intent on chasing the couple. Sure, he's a psychopath, but even a psychopath has some taste.

Cortez The Killer said...

Andre: Good call. Don't see this unless you want to gauge your eyeballs out with a spork.

Emily: I can feel your seething contempt for this film. Honestly, I've never seen the original, but after your impassioned response, I will definintely check it out. Agreed on the waste of Sean Bean.

Emily said...

The original definitely has its flaws, but there's something wonderfully gritty about it that holds up well. I remember thinking, while watching the remake, that the setting and landscape was virtually identical, and yet it had absolutely no effect in comparison.

B-Movie Becky said...

"The cat and mouse game continues as the killer catches up to the couple in the police car, hauling ass in a 1970's Trans Am. Cue Nine Inch Nails, the dude taking out four squad cars and a helicopter a la Rambo"

That part completely floored me and I busted into laughter in the theatre. Lame, yes, but amazing, yes.

Cortez The Killer said...

Definitely awesome in its own way but jesus, did it ever make the film ridiculous. Its like someone momentarily hijacked the script or the script writer had tourettes.