Dead End

The Hitcher. Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, and Sean Bean star in a film written by Eric Red, Jake Wade Wall, and Eric Bernt and directed by Dave Meyers.

Reviewed by Max Burke

The Hitcher was the only film to enter into general release last week, as often happens during January, considered the deadliest month for film releases. It’s the time of year when the studios dump everything they have left over and audiences ignore it, choosing instead to catch up on the glut of Oscar-bait flicks released in the last six weeks of the year.

I was hoping the film would be at least tantalizing, but I found instead that it was quite tame by violence standards, generally boring, and mercifully short. The Hitcher has a lot of superficial similarities to the overlooked Joyride of a few years back: teens on a cross-country road trip are terrorized by a relentless sadist of dubious origin. However, everything the truly fun and scary Joyride got right, The Hitcher gets wrong.

Our two young heroes — Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton, as Grace and Jim — are flat, boring personages with nothing to do except run around and scream at each other. Sean Bean plays the titular villain and although his performance is of a higher caliber than the two leads, he also suffers from a lack of anything interesting to do.

Part of the problem with the movie is its pedigree. I’ve seen the original Hitcher, and my verdict is “watchable ’80s horror flick” as opposed to “undiscovered cult classic begging for a remake.” The man responsible for the new version, director Dave Meyers, has directed some very high-profile music videos (and some very good ones, including Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On”), but dig deeper and you’ll find he was also behind the 1999 urban comedy Foolish, which united Eddie Griffin, Master P, and Andrew Dice Clay on-screen for the first, and hopefully last, time.

If you positively need a respite from the grand historical epics, somber dramas, and understated performances of the season — as well as an 80-minute vacation from logic and meaning — then The Hitcher fits the bill. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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