Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
College sweeties Grace and Jim (Bush, Knighton) are headed for some spring break fun until they pick up hitchhiker John Ryder (Bean). Ryder proceeds to take the kids on a blood-soaked ride of highway terror, mistaken identity and cop cars blown up real good. Insert pathetic teen screams and music video cinematography, and we have ourselves a remake folks!
Is it good movie?
No, and yes. And again, No. It certainly is not the original. Having worn out that VHS classic until the tape broke, I was looking at this remake like it was a fragile glass bottle of ebola wrapped up in razorwire. Well, when the credits limped across the screen, I was a little impressed, but truthfully, not that much.
First off, only in the magical world of Michael Bay-Land does a resume filled with nothing but music videos (by Creed and Britney Spears no less) qualify you to direct a remake of a horror classic. It was very easy to see where director Meyers' influences lay. The cinematography was your standard music video fare, and we at AITH know that Red's involvement in the script process was minimal (his original script being "re-written" by the Platinum Dunes writers, and Red getting lead credit because of W.G.A. arbitration, which is only right as it's his story, man!). Sadly this movie, while copying the original, does so in such a ham-fisted and poorly executed way that the movie never lives up to its source material. There were some okay scenes, and the whole was entertaining as long as you have never seen the original, but the MTV/WB heavy tone and lack of narrative tension really killed the ride. Seriously, Bay and his Platinum Dunes need to stop. As if remakes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Amittyville Horror weren't enough, he has now brought one of our favourite Eric Red scripted horror masterpieces back to "glorious, MTV-style" life.
Acting wise, the only standout here is Sean Bean, and even his turn as highway psycho John Ryder pales in comparison to Rutger Hauer in the original. Sophia Bush takes the part of our lead hero here, and her performance was so wooden and forced (think current teen horror movie calibre acting and you'll get my point), that I wanted her character strapped between to semi trucks! And that brings me to my second biggest gripe. The gore was almost non-existent, mostly happening off camera, and the horror and tension of the original were only barely hinted at. They even wrecked a surefire classic scene by switching the gender of the victim, thereby lessening the emotional impact seen in Red's original film. Stupid characters, insipid decisions and poor direction made this one a giant stinker of a remake.
Now, what was the reason I liked a part of it? I dug the car crash scenes. Call me crazy, but those stuntmen must have balls the size of nautical mines! Nice work there.
Video / Audio
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen - 2.35:1.
Audio: English and Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1) and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
First off we get eight Deleted Scenes, which are more extended scenes, and nothing much at that. There's a couple of cool little extras though, such as a look at the effects behind the poorly ripped off truck ripping scene in Dead End (seriously, guys, so not as cool as the original, and the more blood/less guts shot was much better), and a peek into the insanity of stuntmen with the car crash effects featurette Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash. Next we have Fuel Your Fear: The Making of The Hitcher, which is your obligatory "we're making the coolest horror movie ever" glad-handing extra. And finally we have the silly news clips never used in the film, Chronicles of a Killer. Oh, and we get two ho-hum Audio Commentaries.
Another in a long run of classic movies that never needed to be remade, The Hitcher is a case of too much style and not enough substance. I am a huge fan of Eric Red's work, but something must have been lost in translation, because this PG-13 watered down teen horror flick just doesn't jive well. Add to this the fact that I'm now horrified to learn that Bay, his company, and a new slew of WB bobbleheads are possibly set to remake Red's most superior take on vampires, Near Dark, and even the Hitchcock classic The Birds, and the whole mess of Hollywood Horror seems to me to be a big steaming pile of genre blasphemy.
Give me Sean Bean as the villain in an original boo flick with some wicked car crashes, naked folks and eye impalings thrown in, and then I'll be happy. Maybe.