January 19, 2007, - 12:49 pm

Weekend Box Office: “The Hitcher”

By Debbie Schlussel
Never pick up strangers. That’s not news.
But it is the tag-line of this weekend’s new horror-thriller hitchhiker flick, “The Hitcher.” It’s also the URL of the movie’s website, neverpickupstrangers.com. Well, it’s not actually “new.” It’s a remake of the 1986 Rutger Hauer/C. Thomas Howell/Jennifer Jason Leigh movie.
This is one of those movies they screen only on the Thursday night before the movie, so newspaper critics can’t review–and pan–it in time for the Friday opening. But internet reviewers, like me, aren’t so precluded.
My conclusion: It is what it is–an okay B or C movie horror flick. Not a great movie, but entertaining for those who want to be scared and disturbed, nonetheless. Still, this is one of those many movies out there, today, that uses violence and gore and blood to scare people–a bad trend getting worse. The better horror flicks don’t need those props to scare you. They do it with suspense. The rest, as this one partially is, are lazy and uncreative.


It’s the story of a boyfriend and girlfriend–played by the beautiful Sophia Bush of TV’s “One Tree Hill”–driving to Spring Break in Lake Havasu. They pick up a crazy, murderous hitchhiker. And you know the rest. Killing, blood, suspense, multiple-scaregasms.
Although this is made by the producers of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “The Amityville Horror,” it is not as bloody or gory as I was fearing it would be. I’m kind of squeamish and I only had to cover my eyes for two extremely disturbing/disgusting scenes.
Many parts of it are very predictable. And I’m sure my many cop friends might not buy into the incompetence of legions of police in the face of one killer. Yet, it’s still scary.
Not for anyone under 17. Do not take your kids.
**** UPDATE, 01/22/07: On readers’ recommendations, I watched the original 1986 version of “The Hitcher,” starring Rutger Hauer, C. Thomas Howell, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. It’s almost exactly the same. Yes, it’s been updated–cell phones weren’t commonly around in ’85, and other things have been altered. But those who made this year’s remake copied the original very closely.
The newer version has more blood and gore, but not much more. It’s a toss up, but I think I like the original better. It does, however, move much more slowly than the re-make. Thanks to readers who suggested it.

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5 Responses

It may be an OK movie, but unfortunately it’s yet another remake. In the past 2 years, Hollywood has remade so many horror flicks, it’s not funny.

Norman Blitzer on January 19, 2007 at 1:30 pm

Stupid horror movies are apparently the best movies to make. They’re cheap, easy and generate big bucks. Sure they only last one or two weeks, but they’re popular. Go figure.
By the way, if a horror movie scared you with suspense, wouldn’t it be classified as a “suspense” movie?

LoveAManInAUniform on January 19, 2007 at 2:31 pm

The original “The Hitcher” (1986), with Rutger Hauer in the lead role (maniac killer role), C. Thomas Howell, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is a CLASSIC. The cast is superb (Rutger Hauer’s best performance ever) and the story line unique. I didn’t see this remake and I don’t plan to because NOTHING can beat the original.
Rent it….you won’t go wrong. It’ll keep you at the edge of your seat.

Thee_Bruno on January 19, 2007 at 8:02 pm

I am anxious to see this remake simply because I have seen and do consider the original Hitcher an all time favorite of mine.
I like to compare original vs. remakes.
I agree that I doubt it can come close to beating the original starring C. Thomas Howell and of course Rutger Hauer (Fullbright Scholar)as the maniacal killer.
While Rutger has a most memorable performance as the maniacal killer in The Hitcher… I do believe his best role to date was as the “Replicant” killer “Roy” in the classic 1970’s film “Blade Runner” Starring Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos and a newcommer Darryl Hannah who played “Replicant Priss.” All of whom had excellent performances, but for Hauer, his best!

Bark'n on January 20, 2007 at 1:36 am

See the original version. It won’t dissapoint. Rutger Hauer is the ultimate creep. Great performance. The police in the original movie remind me of the Security forces that are now supposed to be protecting us here in the USA. They are so inept it’s ridiculous.

Rich B on January 20, 2007 at 10:19 am

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