January 19, 2007, - 12:49 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATE ****
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.
Tags: C. Thomas Howell, cell phones, Debbie Schlussel, internet reviewers, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Lake Havasu, One Tree Hill, Rutger Hauer, Sophia Bush, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Tree Hill