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DVD Review: The Hitcher

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As remakes go, The Hitcher retains enough of the original concept to make it an enjoyable movie, with plenty of car chases, crashes, and creepy scenes to make 84 minutes fly by. Like the original, which came out in 1986, this remake keeps the main characters few and the frights many.

The movie starts with a stat sure to grab anyone who likes a good road trip: 42,000 people are killed every year on the highway, this according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

When college couple Grace Andrews (played by Sophia Bush, star of One Tree Hill and ex-wife of OTH co-star Chad Michael Murray) and Jim Halsey (played by Zachary Knighton, who has a handful of television and movie credits to his name) head to Lake Havasu for spring break, everything’s fine until, during a rainstorm, they almost run down a man standing in the middle of the road next to what appears to be a broken down car.

The man turns out to be John Ryder, a.k.a. The Hitcher (played by Sean Bean, who had turns in Silent Hill, Flightplan, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy). While Rutger Hauer, who played the original hitcher, was creepy, Bean is downright maniacal.

After an encounter with a farmer-tanned store clerk who regales the couple with a story about trying to milk a donkey, the pair gives Ryder a ride, and he, in turn, gives them the ride of their life. Following the plot of the original, Ryder implicates them in a horrific slaying, then alternates between stalking and taunting them.

The main issues I had with the movie, and which I have with most films, is that the psycho is always a great shot while no one else is, and the psycho’s always indestructible (at first, anyway). Also, just a tip — when a psycho killer is after you, stay out in the open. If you run into a ramshackle building, you can’t see him, thus giving said psycho the advantage.

And by the way, after being chased and framed for murder, probably not the best time to make out in the shower and then part ways for “just a few minutes.” Because it never turns out to be just a few minutes, you know? Considering the fact that Bush, born in 1982, and Knighton, born in 1978, were toddlers when the original film came out, they both did a good job with the material, convincing me they were in turn scared, angry and, in the end, strong — both mentally and physically.

The Hitcher is from the producers of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, and is directed by Dave Meyers, whose previous credits are for directing music videos (which might also explain the rockin’ soundtrack — great use of Nine Inch Nail’s “Closer” during a major car chase scene).

The Hitcher is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, anamorphic widescreen 2.40:1, and rated R. Spoken language options are English and French, with subtitles available in English, Spanish and French.

The DVD includes previews for Hot Fuzz, Smokin’ Aces, and Alpha Dog. Bonus features include eight deleted scenes (22:56), including alternate scenes and an alternate ending; Dead End (13:00) describing special effects processes and including cast and crew commentary; Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash (10:00) describing how they created the crashes, with cast and crew commentary; Fuel Your Fear: The Making of the Hitcher (11:00) with cast and crew commentary, as well as how the project came together; and Chronicles of a Killer (4:30), a fake newscast footage of events, with updates of new developments.

Overall, The Hitcher is an enjoyable remake that teaches two important lessons: No good deed goes unpunished, and never, ever give a ride to a stranger.

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