Monday, December 5, 2016

Film Review: The Hitcher (2007)

The Hitcher (Review)
United States/2007
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"The Hitcher is a solid time killer."

A serial killer terrorizes two college students who gave him a ride...

The Hitcher is a barebones slasher. The film follows Jim (Zachary Knighton) and Grace (Sophia Bush), a college couple traveling across New Mexico to meet their friends for Spring Break. On the way, they pick up 'John Ryder' (Sean Bean), which turns out to be a bad idea when Ryder tries to kill them. They successfully escape his clutches, but they find they can't permanently shake him off as Ryder vigorously pursues them – all while framing them for his crimes. That's about all you get from the plot. On one hand, it's very tight and fast-paced so its keep the filler at a minimum. On the other hand, it doesn't really shine due to its lack of character and atmosphere. It also leads to a painfully cheesy and generic ending.

Thanks to its basic plot and fast pace, The Hitcher is a solid time killer. It's not a huge investment – you just put it on, you watch people die, then you turn it off. In that sense, it succeeds as a thriller. However, The Hitcher is held back by some significant flaws. Although it is often thrilling, the film is never really suspenseful or terrifying. At most, I'd say it occasionally achieves moderate suspense. The plot, which is already simple enough, is contrived, especially during the latter half of the film. It relies too much on the stupidity of its characters, then it expects you to believe they can be more. I mean, Grace is the type of character to tell a serial killer she has a gun instead of using it. This fact is often frustrating. You kinda just want to scream at the screen and tell them to do the smart thing.

The acting was okay. The cast is serviceable. Sophia Bush is a fairly plain leading lady, never deviating from her generic role. Zachary Knighton is more of the same. Sean Bean puts a little more effort into his performance. He feels menacing during a few scenes, too. The film was shot well – it has that grungy 2000s vibe that a lot of Michael Bay's remakes from the decade had. The film was written by Eric Bernt, Eric Red, and Jake Wade Wall, and directed by Dave Meyers. This is one of those films where you wonder: why did they have three writers for such a simple plot? Well, I don't have an answer for you. The writing could have been much better. This is also one of those films that's directed by a music video director. Meyers is a decent director, though. He crafted a solid thriller here.

Overall, The Hitcher is a decent film. The plot is simple to a fault, cliché, and often cheesy, but it works. It's not much of a horror movie due to the lack of suspense, but it is thrilling, exciting, and fast-paced. If you need to kill 75-minutes, this is a solid film. If you're looking for an raw and effective slasher, look elsewhere.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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