October Extras #19 - The Hitcher (2007)

OCTOBER 19, 2007


Look, you know what? Fuck you. I like The Hitcher remake. Can you really blame Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt for dropping the homoerotic subtext of the original and replacing it with a female lead (especially one as mind bogglingly cute as Sophia Bush)? Look at what happens to any horror movie nowadays that includes a dose of subtlety or metaphor: They tank. Personally, I think catering to an audience is fine every now and then, as long as it’s enjoyable. Like the saying goes "Steak is better, but every now and then, you want a Big Mac."

Like McDonald's, the film is delicious even though you know it's crap. Besides, any moment Bush is onscreen, the film is more than simply watchable, and as it gets more and more ridiculous (where the hell does that dropped car come from?), it just gets more and more hilariously fun. I don’t think anyone involved thought to make any sort of realistic or thought provoking film, so why should it be dismissed because it isn’t? I don’t think I need to point out again that a film simply being a remake isn’t nearly enough of a reason to hate it. And come on, can anyone honestly say that The Hitcher II had more respect for the source material? At least this movie has the good sense to cast an actual actor in the role of the Hitcher, instead of the son of a guy whose real life persona is pretty much the model of such types of characters.


I’d like to dedicate the next paragraph to the movie’s “memorable” soundtrack. First off, Steve Jablonsky’s score is actually quite good (sadly unavailable on CD), which was a nice surprise since his work on The Island was god awful (one thing a Bay film will otherwise always have is a memorable, powerful score). But it’s almost obliterated by the licensed music peppered liberally throughout the film. We begin with what appears to be a 10 minute version of All American Rejects sing-along “Move Along”, and when it finally ends, we soon thereafter hear a radio DJ say “Here’s a classic from David Soul” (!!!) before “Don’t Give Up On Us Baby”. Then there’s some obscure David Gray/Matthews tunes, and finally the film’s raison d’etre – a laugh out loud action montage (one that’s already ridiculous enough) set to Nine Inch Nail’s “Closer”. Hilariously, at the first screening I went to (I saw this 3x in theaters!), director Dave Meyers told the crowd that they had just finished the film the day before. I asked what the last thing was, and he said it was securing the rights to use the song. Considering that it was the final straw for many of the people who saw (and ultimately disliked) the film, I found this to be some delightful trivia. And hey, there’s your homoerotic subtext – the “I want to fuck you like an animal!” line comes right as the Hitcher drives his car directly into a cop’s, PENETRATING him if you will. Happy now?

The movie is also occasionally intentionally hilarious. The gas station attendant is a particular highlight, and Neal McDonough’s colorful profanity (“You gotta be five finger fucking me!”) is always a delight. And there’s some nice black humor, such as the blood spattered children’s book titled “Will I Go To Heaven”. And the “I’m horny” line/response more than makes up for the film’s one major scene omission from the original (the diner scene).

If the film has one real flaw, it’s the guy playing Bush’s boyfriend. He’s not bad, but he’s very bland (sort of a 2nd date Jared Padalecki). If they wanted an average looking guy with messy hair to play a guy who drives a car and is in love with Sophia Bush, I can certainly think of at least one better, likely cheaper, option. Also, Bean doesn’t get to really chew the scenery as much as I would have liked – only in the film’s final 20 minutes (particularly in his interrogation scene) does his casting really pay off.

Also this. Seriously, how can you not like this movie?

The DVD is sans commentary, which bums me out as I enjoyed listening to Meyers talk at the screening/junket, and I think he’s definitely one of the better music video directors to come along in a while. Say what you will about the script, but you can’t tell me the film isn’t stylish and well made, nor is it hyper-edited or hand-cranked to the point of incoherency, like the films of many of his peers. Granted, it’s pretty difficult to NOT make the southwest US look beautiful, but his and DP James Hawkinson’s work here is still far above average. Instead, there are some alternate endings of no real difference, and some other fluff. Then again, since I like the film solely for being mindless fun, I guess I can’t complain that the DVD features aren’t exactly Shakespearean.

Like the Dawn of the Dead remake, some folks trash it simply for ignoring the subtext of the original, but here it seems more apparent since they are sticking so closely to the beats of the original film (so much that original writer Eric Red, who had nothing to do with the remake at all, is given screenwriting credit instead of the usual “Based on characters created by” or whatever credit). I can give it that, but really, that’s not the film they are making this time around. This is a popcorn “ride” of a film, stripped of all pretense, designed solely to entertain. And it does. For me, anyway. At least they didn’t spend half the film explaining why the Hitcher killed and then having him act in a manner that contradicted those reasons in the other half.

What say you?


  1. Excellent review, and one I agree with entirely. Terrific blog, by the way.

  2. i shut it off after five minutes twice. then, my dad shut it off after 5 minutes.

  3. i watched the whole thing
    thought it was decent except for the really bad use of music...used it toatally at the wrong times (only Rob Zombie can pull that off)

  4. Well, I thought the use of NIN's "God" was effective during that one intense highway confrontation. And while this remake is of little significance in the big picture, I enjoyed it as nothing more than a Saturday night drinking movie.

  5. Saw the original as a kid when my cousin got it out and it scared the s out of me. This time round I found it enjoyable for the lack fo a better word, the 'darknes' of the Bean character. Are you trust worthy ? No. Good old honest movie making. AND YES where does the car come from.. ..

  6. I love Sophia Bush, yet I had to reinforce myself to see this CRAP from start to finish. I actually CAN blame Hack Wade Wall and Dave Meyers for having transformed an intense, scary thriller with a main male character into a run-of-the-mill crap-o-rama with an unbelievable female lead who I wanted to rip in half for the WHOLE MOVIE. It's actually pretty misandrist.

    The reasons you give me for liking it are bullshit. I can't understand how you can be fooled into liking trash all because a girl showed her body.

    If I want to see pretty girls naked, I'll watch porn, thankyouverymuch.

    I can't say you don't have good taste, because I agree with 90% of your reviews, but MAN, you must have been paid REALLY well to like this CRAP.

  7. I WISH I was paid for this!

    I actually just bought the film on HD DVD. Now I have 2 copies!!!

  8. Hey man, just found your blog the other day and it is truly some of the most consistantly funny stuff I've read in quite a while, but I had some weed-eating to do last weekend and ended up reading dozens of your reviews instead so I blame you for my yard looking like shit. Thanks, dick! Anyhow, I rented the Hitcher last night on your recommedation and it wasn't bad. The bad guy was convincingly evil, the hot chick was convincingly hot (if a bit annoying and seriously, why the fuck does everyone in these movies have to move so slowly? If there's a homicidal maniac trying to kill you and there's a gun two feet away, just real quick grab that fucking thing, don't slowly reach for it like it's a frog that's going to jump away if you don't sneek up on it. Time's a'wastin'!) Anyhow, my real point in writing is that I was reading your review of The Killing Gene, by all counts a pretty terrible movie, and you pointed out that at one point a windshield gets shot from behind with no logical path for the bullet to travel. Well, there's another movie with that exact same mistake, and it's your beloved The Hitcher! During the chase scene with the NIN song, our hero's windshield suffers a bullet hole from a cop shooting at them from behind, and no, I'm not five finger fuckin' ya. Just thought I'd point that out. Thanks for the really great blog, and as a victim of several bad, bad horror movies, I commend you on your resolve to keep watching some of this shit. You should try The 13th Child, which I also rented last night. It's almost so bad that it's good, but mostly it's just really bad.

  9. I'm not ashamed to say I really dig this movie, I think I was the only person in my theater (any theater?) that got an ear to ear grin during the mini Nine Inch Nails music video. I'm also not ashamed to admit I've seen this far more times than the original.


Movie & TV Show Preview Widget