Wednesday, July 3, 2013

REVIEW: The Hitcher (2007)

Let’s talk about remakes for a second. They’re not inherently bad; it’s just that people these days don’t seem to like putting much effort into them, especially in the horror genre…too much of the time a remake is an excuse to just make some cheap piece of trash, with generic characters doing silly things while cursing a lot and reinforcing the reasons why being white isn’t something to be proud of. Case in point? The Hitcher.

Director: Dave Meyers
Starring: Sean Bean, Sophia Bush

I mean this is seriously just insipid. Take the worst elements of 2000s horror and mix them with the plot of The Hitcher, only without anywhere near the level of tension or drama as that film.

…oh, were you waiting for something else? No, there is nothing else.

We start off with a truly brilliant recap of the original movie’s themes: two rich college kids meeting up and driving around while a shitty alt rock song plays in the background. It’s more like a commercial for Abercrombie and Fitch than a Hitcher movie. The girl says she has to pee, which really just caps off the re-enactment. I know; I can’t contain myself either. It’s just so much like the original that I can’t even comprehend it!

When Robert Harmon directed the original film, I bet he was just wishing he could include scenes like THESE in his movie, if only he had found the right female actress to play Jim's girlfriend! Luckily the remake was around to fix it 21 years later.

And yes, there are two main characters now. Because lord knows having just one wasn’t good enough. We need a second character so they can shout at one another and so the camera has tits to show more of the time. Brilliant filmmaking, just brilliant!

So while in the original, the car just stops and lets the Hitcher in, in this one we get an ‘exciting’ scene as they swerve around and do a figure-8 on the road without even picking him up at all. The girl, Grace, says they shouldn’t pick him up – okay then; roll the end credits. I guess that’s the end of the movie. But of course they keep going…after all, it wouldn’t be a shitty remake if we didn’t drag things out as long as possible.

They go to some gas station and buy some junk food that I’m sure won’t be good for them. The Hitcher ’07: it’s no good for your health! Jim talks to the attendant who just mostly bores the hell out of me. We’re like fifteen minutes in. Jesus; in the original, we would have already seen several thrills by now. We would have already had several key scenes. What do we get in this? Junk food at a gas station.

…that’s actually kind of a brilliant metaphor for the whole film.

Anyway, back to wasting time: Sean Bean, who is playing the Hitcher now, shows up at the gas station and asks for a ride, which Jim grants despite Grace’s reservations. In the car, they talk about how long Jim has been fucking her. A-HA! Now I know what the original was missing! Cursing and sex! What a revelation…Jim asks how long Bean has been fucking his wife, to which Bean replies that he doesn’t have one. Apparently THIS is the big ‘evil switch’ in the movie as then he breaks a cell phone and holds a knife to Grace’s face while reciting lines from the original.

It's a shame because Bean is really trying. But the script is about as articulate and intelligent as a Cro Magnon on PCP.

I guess Bean isn’t too bad or anything, but the whole scene just points out how deficient this is from the old one. We don’t need two characters for this scene, or any of the scenes for that matter. Having just Jim and the Hitcher alone was fine. Adding an extra character just makes it cluttered and messy.

They kick him out of the car, this time with more elaboration as Jim shouts for Grace to unlock the door so they can kick him out. They then wake up and it’s a bright, sunny day again, so they can stand around posing in the desert looking like a commercial again. Another crap-ass rock song is played, and the cycle of mediocrity is complete. Why are you even trying, movie? Why don’t you just give up while you’re ahead and let the world forget you exist?

Then we get a long, drawn out version of the excellent scene in the original where they see the Hitcher with that other family and then find the car afterward. In the original it was powerful because you don’t see what happened to them – here we spend way too long with the car and we see too much of what happened. One of the family members, the father, is still alive even. They drive off with him to find a hospital and this falls out of the car, which one of the kids was reading:

Heh heh heh…that’s almost funny. Almost.

They go to this stupid restaurant and have a whole scene where a waitress inexplicably thinks Grace and Jim killed the people from the car. If that was true, why exactly would they be coming in asking for help and acting hysterical? I think there’s a reason this chick is a waitress and nothing more. Personally I doubt she’ll amount to anything else, especially after she calls the cops and gets them arrested. Before that though, we get a loooooooong, sloooooooow scene of Jim trying to save the dying guy and failing, and Grace hiding in a bathroom when she should be running to help a dying man or trying to get to a phone – aren’t you guys glad this chick is one of our main characters?

She's so scared, her makeup hasn't even started to run yet.

Eh, I’m not.

So yeah, they get arrested by the idiot police, only to get broken out by Sean Bean in about two seconds. Glad they had this part in the movie at all…in the original they were at least there for a while. Here, the movie wasted like 10 minutes on that shit with the dying father in the car and just glazed over the jail part so fast that it barely mattered that they were in jail at all. And it’s just not that interesting, movie! It’s just too much of what we don’t need. I even get what this is going for…it’s trying to make the new remake different from the original classic, and does so by elongating some scenes and shortening other ones. But it just doesn’t work at all. You don’t get any tension or atmosphere from this version, just annoyance at how Bean sneaks down and has Jim in his grasp, and then leaves in two seconds once Grace comes down with a flashlight and a gun.

So let me get this straight, he went down there to threaten Jim for a few seconds and just disappear as soon as Grace finds them? This guy sure doesn't have 'efficient use of time' as a big part of his evil plot, does he? Pretty goddamn pointless in the grand scheme of things...and by that I mean ENTIRELY POINTLESS.

Yeah…pretty retarded.

So yeah, the next fifteen minutes is just stuff you remember from the original – Jim and Grace come upon some cop and take him hostage, though that goes well when Bean kills him a few moments later – glad this part was even in the movie at all, right? There are some pretty good chase scenes and then they end up in the desert somewhere. They argue a bit about whose fault it is that they’re out there, and since this is a quiet and reflective moment where the screenwriter could have actually done some good with the two characters and developed them a little, the movie literally throws a truck in front of them to stop it.

Character development?! Eww! Just throw a truck in front of them!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie just literally not give a shit this much. Even The Hitcher II was trying compared to this right now…what kind of lazy ass do you have to be to just throw a truck in between your characters during an argument? Could you just not think of any other way to end the argument? Allow me to make a suggestion for next time: if you have a shit-ass script with no worthwhile elements to it, just have your characters ripped apart by wolverines at random next time. It’s more unique than a truck, and more painful. It might offer some minor catharsis for the audience’s pain.

And trust me, anyone with half a brain is in pain during THIS right now. Let’s just get it over with.

So they find some motel where they have shower sex and talk about how horrible everything is. I just love these movies’ conceptions of people and their sex lives. Isn’t that great? “We’re so traumatized!” “I know, let’s make out!” It’s not even like…desperate, grieving, panicked sex. It's music video sex with a bland piano ballad over it. It’s just like they’re shooting a porn video in the middle of a horror movie.

Can you picture Taylor Swift singing in the cutaway scenes yet?

Because that’s what this movie needs…oh, wait, it actually is what it needs at this point. I guess I’ll give it a pass. Everything else is so banal I might as well.

Like the next part, where the Hitcher tries to rape Grace in bed...

…because THAT was what was missing from the original! A rape scene! Brilliant! 10/10 stars! Two thumbs up! The utter worthlessness and bad taste of this scene have just driven me up the wall! A movie finally did it; drove me completely insane! Thank you, Hitcher remake, for completely destroying a great film. I think we might as well make an epitaph for The Hitcher right now.

That should do it. God, this scene though – so tasteless, so utterly missing the point. In the original he was just waiting for her in the bed and wordlessly put a hand over her mouth to kidnap her and the scene lasts maybe a minute or something, most of it taken up by the chilling suspense. Here it goes on for almost five and he says – he actually says this; damn you for making me type it at all – “I’m horny too.” What kind of a line is that? How does that add to the mysticism and mysteriousness of his character? And the whole attempted rape is just…eugh; it’s just unpleasant to watch. It pretty much singlehandedly takes the character of the Hitcher and turns him into a big nasty joke. This isn’t even the same character. This isn’t John Ryder, the force of nature – this is just some creepy bum off the streets who happened to get lucky a few times.

I also love how she hides in the bathroom afterwards with a gun, like this whole thing is some Freddy or Jason shit instead of a terse, atmospheric thriller. But then again I guess hiding in bathrooms is all she was ever good at anyway.

Oh please, this shot was just here because the director wanted her in a thong. She's wearing a skirt again in the very next scene two seconds later, so really?

So yeah, in conclusion the makers of this movie should go sodomize each other with rusty pitchforks. It might just improve their creative forces.

But, sigh, we’re not done yet, so why not just look at the part where we get the classic ‘tied between two trucks’ scene, except it’s Jim who is tied there and Grace who has to save him. Basically the whole thing looks okay at first blush, but then when you think about it, they just messed it up completely. Like when Grace has to go confront the Hitcher in the truck. Again, in the original it lasted a few moments and was mostly wordless. Here it goes on WAAAAAYYYY too long and just wears out its welcome, not to mention stupid as hell too.

The original did well to make everything ambiguous and not go into too much detail on what the Hitcher’s motives were. This one not so much. First he says he will kill Jim if Grace doesn’t get in the car. He says if she doesn't, he will take his foot off the gas and rip Jim in two. So Grace gets in the car and he then says to kill him. So what the hell? If she does THAT, then his original threat is null and void because Jim dies anyway! I guess he got an ‘F’ in Movie Villain School – I can just see his report card now. Total failure to blackmail your heroine correctly, total failure to scare anyone, even little kids…

"Yeah, I guess I don't really have any idea what I'm doing..."

And we get a bunch of nonsense about how he “wants to die,” and maybe if that simple thought was the only motive he had throughout the whole thing, it coulda worked, but it’s mostly confused and vague. So it’s just a waste like the rest of the flick.


Yeah, great job…it’s not scary or interesting in the least. Mostly it’s just kinda ehhhh. See what this film is doing to me? I can barely even make a coherent sentence anymore!

They arrest him just like in the original and then handcuff him and take him away in an armored truck. They show him breaking his finger – which is remarkably easy for him; is his skin made out of paper mache? – to get out of the handcuffs. Honestly it’s just pointless. The original worked so well because we didn’t know how he did stuff like this; it was shrouded in secret and mystery, and made him more of the force of nature that he was. By showing these things, he becomes less mysterious and more human. It doesn’t work at all to create any kind of feeling besides a tradeoff between blandness and outright disgust at some parts.

Like this other part where he’s killed the officers and crashed the car – he gets out and walks across the field and it’s supposed to be real suspenseful, but he just looks like some skinny asshole in a vest.

Really? We're supposed to be afraid of him right now? He looks like any old common thug now. If he was still trying as hard as in the beginning, maybe, but it seems like Bean was instructed to act like he was high in these last scenes, so the impact of his acting alone isn't even that great anymore. Bravo movie...bravo...

So Grace somehow survives a fire he starts in the truck she’s in, and goes after him with a gun. She shoots him a couple times in his bulletproof vest – yeah, way to waste bullets, you idiot. He finally looks up at her and asks her “how it feels,” to which she replies that she feels nothing, and kills him. Trust me honey, the audience shares your exact sentiments about the movie they just got done watching.

Cue another vomited-up alt rock piece of shit song, and the credits roll. What the hell is even up with the shitty music anyway? It's like the director was just better at directing mainstream music vid---

...oh. So he really was a music video director. Well that explains everything! Except, you know, WHY THE HELL WOULD THEY GET A MUSIC VIDEO DIRECTOR TO DO A HORROR MOVIE? I guess the Michael Bay producing credit explains that well enough. Or just the fact that the studios care as much about quality in their movie remakes as the Westboro Baptist Church does about equality and fairness in the eyes of God. Ugh.

It's seriously a miracle of horridness - take the plot of the original, stretch out story elements that were perfectly fine in the original, subtract any and all scares and tension, and add in dullard contemporary rock more fit for a shitty MTV show than a horror film. How did this ever get past the drawing board? It's so awful I can't even comprehend it. Good God this is shit. The original is a classic and this is the stinking raw sewage that happens when modern Hollywood decides 'hey, we need to make a movie! Who cares if it's good or not? Just take some old film people barely watch anymore and make it hip and swag!' Well I think that's completely despicable. Just forget this crap ever existed. I know I'll be trying – and trying hard – over the next few fact, I think I'll go watch the original. That's the perfect way to get this out of my system once and for all!

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