Reviewed by: Jamey Hughton
What's it about
A group of girls headed for fun in Vegas unwisely pick up hitchhiker Jack (Jeff Denton), thus entering into their own private hell. When their vehicle breaks down and they pull in at an otherwise vacant motel, the girls soon discover that Jack has been through some ďwomen troublesĒ as of late and is quite happy to terrorize, rape and kill them.
Is it good movie?
THE HITCHHIKER follows in the proud tradition of The Asylum, a horror production company that specializes in taking current, popular movies and capitalizing on their awareness with a well-timed ďshadow releaseĒ. SNAKES ON A TRAIN, HILLSIDE CANNIBALS and PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND... these do all seem vaguely familiar. And if some unknowing consumer mistakenly picks up KING OF THE LOST WORLD thinking itís Peter Jacksonís KING KONG (what with the giant ape on the cover and all), then Iím guessing itís mission: accomplished for Asylum.
THE HITCHHIKER comes on the heels of the remake of THE HITCHER, and whaddya know, itís actually a perfectly decent little flick. While the central premise of picking up a nutjob hitchhiker is still in place, the movie isnít as blatant a rip-off as some of those others I just mentioned. Itís a minor thriller that follows a predictable structure right through until its epilogue, but the production values are respectable and the performances are mostly aboveĖpar for this sort of outing.
The problems arise when we find out the movie just isnít very scary and most of the suspense scenes are by-the-book. Jeff Denton does pretty well as the psycho, but heís just playing a compound of crazed movie murderers in a watered-down version of what has come before. Heís certainly no Rutger Hauer (hell, heís no Sean Bean). The cast of ladies do just fine, although I found Sarah Lieving a bit strained as the main heroine.
THE HITCHHIKER opens with a scene that plays a bit against expectations, and the movie that follows manages to surpass them. For a direct-to-DVD knock-off, itís always watchable and mostly engaging. You could do worse than dropping a few bucks down for this, but donít expect to be too surprised or scared by the assembly line plot.
Video / Audio
Video Widescreen Presentation
Audio 5.1 Dolby Surround or 2.0 Dolby Stereo
Thumbs Out: The Making of the Hitchhiker Fairly brief featurette with cast and crew interviews.
Commentary with Director Leigh Scott Scott (billed as Leigh Slawner on IMDb) is easy to listen to as he recounts making the movie. I was happy he got into the discussion of Asylumís track record and the criticism directed at their copycat releases. Scott believes Asylum is more about cribbing popular ideas than ripping off these movies. As far as this film goes, I agree with him - though Iím not sure about PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND (which Scott also directed).
The DVD also offers two Music Videos and a short Blooper Reel that is surprisingly enjoyable.
No gold stars for originality, but THE HITCHHIKER isnít nearly as bad as you think. Although fairly predictable, itís capably shot and acted. If youíre bored one rainy day, pick it up.