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The Hitcher (2007)

Since the horror filmmaking community has decided to plunder everything that has ever been filmed, it's fair to say that audiences are in the dregs when a remake of 1986's The Hitcher graces the big screen. That's not to say the original Hitcher was bad, it isn't — despite Siskel and Ebert's then protestations — it's just that the whole idea of doing remakes is predicated upon capitalizing name recognition, and The Hitcher pales in comparison to something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even The Amityville Horror. It also pales in comparison to most horror films — this by-the-numbers remake loses everything that made the original interesting to simply go through the motions. Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim Halsey (Zack Andrews) are going for a long drive when they see hitchhiker John Ryder (Sean Bean). This being the 21st century, they ignore his thumb, but then feel bad since he may have a damaged vehicle. When they run across him later, guilt creeps in, and so they offer him a lift. Shortly after being picked up, Ryder begins acting creepy and disgusting, and then pulls a weapon on Jim and asks him to say "I want to die" as loud as he can. Jim refuses and eventually the lovers shake Ryder, but they find a family murdered, likely by the hitchhiker. Of course, after they go to the cops, Jim and Grace become the primary suspects. The Hitcher picks up interest momentarily when it becomes apparent that Ryder is the Pepe Le Pew of serial killers and allows the couple to escape, which puts them further in harm's way. But even after the couple has convinced a local lawman (Neal McDonough) that they're right, it doesn't matter. Taking the plot-line from the original, the film changes the protagonist to the female character (originally played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and in doing so removes all the homoeroticism of C. Thomas Howell getting into bed with Rutger Hauer. It also removes some of the emotional weight from the film's biggest gasper, when the main character's love interest is chained between two trucks in a tug of war. The current version may be more gory, but since all the interesting character details are MIA it just doesn't matter. Sean Bean likely is the only plausible replacement for Rutger Hauer available today, and he does an okay job, even if the role is both over- and under-written, but the most horrific element of the movie is Sophia Bush's performance. When called upon at the end of the film to reveal the extent of her traumas (including watching numerous people die) and finally position herself to get revenge, she seems as perturbed as someone who broke a finger-nail. Rogue/Universal's DVD release of The Hitcher offers a strong anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include the featurettes "Dead End" (13 min.), "Road Kill: The Ultimate Car Crash" (10 min.), "Fuel Your Year: The Making of The Hitcher" (11 min.), and "Chronicles of a Killer" (4 min.). Keep-case.

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