Hitcher, The (2007)

dir: Dave Myers
[img_assist|nid=762|title=Shoot me for being in this deeply shitty movie|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=200]
Is the message that you shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers? Or that you should pick up hitchhikers, lest they become murderous lunatics? Or is it that you shouldn’t pick up The Hitcher 2007, because it’s a dull remake of a superior horror flick from the 80s?

I like Sean Bean, I really do. He was good as Boromir in the Lord’s Ringpiece movies, good as the villain in the only tolerable Brosnan Bond flick Goldeneye, and good in a half dozen other flicks. He’s no Rutger Hauer though.

Rutger Hauer was, in some ways, the 80s. I have a deep love for the man, who could play shlocky heroes and shlockier villains in any flick they attached his meaty presence to. It doesn’t matter that most of them were utter shite. That’s the thing about 80s flicks as opposed to any bad flicks from any other era that I can think of: they’re watchable (now) despite being terrible simply because they’re 80s flicks. There’s so much to enjoy about them in spite of and often because of their relative terribleness.

Who can forget his mercurial turn as Roy Batty in Blade Runner? What about the blind Vietnam vet swordsman in Blind Fury, or the whatever the hell he was in the hideously awful Salute to the Jugger? That was made in Australia, by the way, made in Australia with pride.

The 80s role that really showed how scary he could be as a villain was the original Hitcher, released way back in 1986. The original Hitcher is no masterpiece of horrificness or otherwise, but it was the kind of flick kids my age were disgusting each other with relating the nastier bits to each other in the schoolyard. The most notorious bit involved the threat of someone, in that case Jennifer Jason Leigh, being torn apart by two trucks. Oh, and the finger in the french fries, that was a classic.

On top of that, Aryan-looking ubermensch Rutger played the role of the psychotic hitcher with zeal, with relish and with every other condiment you can think of. Sure, he overplayed it, but it remains a vivid and almost mythical take on the implacable villain genre. He really is the Terminator with better elocution, years before the Terminator was even thought of.

In that earlier film, the murderous bastard John Ryder pathologically fixates on two innocents and makes their lives and the lives of everyone else in their path a living and dying hell. He forcibly transforms the harmless protagonist into a person somewhat closer to himself, before the inevitable climax. Think of it as an early instalment in the self-improvement genre.

This current flick has two starry-eyed innocents selected on the basis of whether they could comfortably appear in a Tommy Hilfiger ad or not, pursued by a bored unshaven guy who has nothing better to do than magically be everywhere and kill everyone without ever bothering to indicate how or why such crap is happening.

This current remake exists because everything you’ve ever seen or heard of needs to be remade. Everything no matter how pointless or dated needs to be remade if you can remember it. If you can remember it, then that halves the amount of marketing they need to do to sell you the flick. After all, wouldn’t you punch a puppy in the face in order to see the horror remake of Enchanted April, or Howard’s End?

Did The Hitcher need to be remade? Did Texas Chainsaw Massacre need to be remade? Did Halloween need to be remade? Does anything need to be remade? Do you hate rhetorical questions being asked in reviews?

The answer is, obviously, no. Nothing needs to be remade from the point of view of moviegoers. They only need to be remade from the point of view of people who want to squeeze a little more cash out of what they call a ‘property’. My foremost proof of how lacking in ideas and abundant in pointlessness this remake is, I will tell you that the actual running time of the flick, excluding the credits, is about 73 minutes. How little it meant even to them…

You could be asking yourself why I bothered to go and see a flick that every fibre of my being would have been telling me would be an unremitting piece of shiteness right from the get-go. The truth is I don’t hate them for trying. I didn’t hate the Texas Chainsaw remake on principle as much as much as I could have, because even the imagery of the first well used in the second was enough to creep me out, and the variations were significant enough to add where the subtractions alone would have aggravated.

Here, it just doesn’t work. John Ryder as played by Rutger Hauer was a being of pure malevolence who achieves what he does because he’s driven by complete mania. He’s the embodiment of the will to power concept that spotty nerds who read Nietzsche in their basement bedrooms desperately pray will someday apply to them. He commits acts of incredible carnage because he is completely beyond the strictures of morality and the bounds of acceptable behaviour, and can only be stopped when someone comes around to his way of thinking.

Here, John Ryder is a ninja, an expert marksman, a charmer, an all-knowing all seeing super detective who knows and does everything because, um, because he just does. He can even fling stolen cars at people he can’t see walking at the bottom of cliffs. Isn’t that scary?

Making decent horror flicks is hard. They, being producers, hope that the job is made a bit easier when the property being developed is a remake, because they just have to update it a bit without having to think of too many original concepts or ideas. They hate thinking, after all. But for the love of Jeebus, couldn’t they have put just a little more thought into it?

There’s nothing of anything worth even 73 minutes of your time in this flick. Bean is more absence than presence; the cute kids are dull and run around like amputated puppies, the action is rote and formulaic, and the one over-the-top action sequence has the villain killing three car loads and a helicopter full of cops with a hand gun as Closer by Nine Inch Nails plays in the background: the only scene which comes close to matching the insanity of the earlier one, but which also emphasises just how stupid the whole experience is for everyone concerned. Bean actively looks pained by being in the flick, and it only almost matches the pain of the audience watching it.

Pointless and shallow, like an A-cup bra. No Rutger cameo either. That alone would have raised the score a point or two.

2 times even the gender swap element doesn’t add anything new to the ending out of 10

“I want you to say four little words: I. Want. To. Die” – we all do after sitting through this, The Hitcher.