Directed by: Dave Meyers
Premise: A remake of the 1986 film. Two college students (Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush) pick up a hitchhiker (Sean Bean) with disastrous results.
What Works: The opening act of the film works well enough to create a sense of the relationship between the couple and Bean is competent as hitchhiker John Ryder. Bean possesses the kind of ambiguous charisma that makes the character believable and frightening.
What Doesn’t: Despite a promising start, The Hitcher quickly descends into stupidity, starting with the introduction of a police lieutenant (Neal McDonough) who is too campy to be taken seriously and too obnoxious to be an interesting character. The film becomes a collection of random scenes that do not advance story or increase conflict, but just showcase violence and ridiculous stunts for no purpose other than showmanship. As the hitchhiker pursues the couple he mysteriously disappears and reappears in ways that defy logic or dramatic cohesion. Ryder has a shell of a motivation for his actions, but the film has no real idea of why he behaves as he does, and the result is contradiction passing for character. The relationship between the couple is similarly incomplete, as their relationship remains unchanged through the ordeal. The voguish nihilism that The Hitcher aims for (as though that were not a perfect contradiction) is as forced and insincere as the film’s attempts to be scary.
Bottom Line: The Hitcher is an example of good material suffering from bad filmmaking and a lack of vision. While the actors show competence and the technical elements are certainly there, it doesn’t add up to anything.
Episode: #128 (February 4, 2007)