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The Hitcher
A retread remake
The Hitcher
A Scene from Horror film "The Hitcher".
OPENING WEEKEND: $22,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $65,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

November 20th, 2006: One rainy night, while driving across the country, two college students, Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) and Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush), decide to pick up a hitchhiker. The man, John Ryder (Sean Bean), seems harmless enough at first, but soon turns out to be a disturbingly dangerous individual. After the couple barely escapes their first encounter with the murderous psychopath, the real trouble begins. Wherever Jim and Grace go, Ryder follows and when he decides to go on a killing spree, he makes sure to frame the unfortunate twosome in the process. Now the couple is not only Ryder’s prey, but also outlaws wanted by the police. They must stop Ryder’s rampage and find a way to prove their innocence in the process.

What to Expect: The film is a remake of the terrifying 1986 horror classic, which starred Rutger Hauer as the relentlessly homicidal John Ryder and C. Thomas Howell as his prey, Jim Halsey. The updated version is co-written by Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt. Wall’s last screenplay was for the banal, but mildly successful horror remake When a Stranger Calls, which actually managed to bring in over $20 million on opening weekend. Bernt’s body of work includes several relatively unremarkable flicks, like Romeo Must Die, Virtuosity, and the Rutger Hauer thriller, Surviving the Game. The project originated at Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes production company, which essentially specializes in horror remakes. Much like with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, the focus here is on taking a proven idea, kicking up the special effects, and creating another formulaic, but bankable update. Fittingly, the same Texas locations that were used in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror remakes are once again being recycled in The Hitcher. Unsurprisingly, a music video director has been hired to helm the project. Dave Meyers, who has worked with such artists as Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Creed, will make his feature film debut on The Hitcher.

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Here are a few general points of interest about the flick. Unlike the original, which focused primarily on the Jim Halsey/John Ryder dynamic, the remake will feature two victims, one male and the other female. The story will take place in New Mexico and will span a 40-hour period. Producers have also promised that the hitchhiker will be smarter than in the original and perhaps this is why it has been mentioned that the body count will be greater as well. Finally, in order to keep the audience guessing, the ending is expected to be entirely different in the remake.

Not only does the remake now feature a female protagonist, but there is a little bit of role reversal going on as well. The character of Grace Andrews has nothing to do with the Nash character played by Jennifer Jason Leigh in the original. The female part has been greatly expanded and in fact, Grace will be the primary target of John Ryder’s psychological games, not Jim Halsey. Sophia Bush (Stay Alive, “One Tree Hill”), who plays Grace, has said that she can relate to her tomboyish character. She’s been very excited about being involved in some of the stunts, playing with guns, and blowing things up.

For Zachary Knighton, this may be his big screen breakthrough. Although this is his first lead role in a feature film, his Jim Halsey will likely play second fiddle to Sophia Bush’s Grace. In an interview, Knighton said that he believes that movies should be character driven, but unfortunately here he gets to play an everyman that, according to him, normal guys can relate to. The character sounds a little dull if you ask me and I hope that he will not be the main driving force behind the movie.

Without question, the most important piece in this puzzle is the character of John Ryder, who will be played by Sean Bean. By choosing the fantastic character actor, the filmmakers have made at least one positive move. Bean has that familiar face, but he is not an instantly recognizable household name, which makes him an ideal candidate for the part. He’s probably known to most as Boromir from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but his breakthrough in the States came in 1995 when he played James Bond’s sinister adversary in GoldenEye. John Ryder is the ultimate controlled and methodical villain and Bean has proven himself in similar parts in the past. The character reportedly gave the actor a chance to experiment a little and he seems to have a great understanding of what the role demands. He sees Ryder as someone that can actually be quite charming and is not entirely vicious. In the film’s early stages, he shows a degree of normalcy, but eventually he undergoes an almost instant transformation into a totally ruthless being. Ryder is someone that finds pleasure in pushing the boundaries. Since he feels no one pushing back, he continues to do it, feeding on the simultaneous amusement and frustration from the situation. The film will prevent him from being viewed as a stereotypical movie villain by never actually showing any of Ryder’s killings on screen.

Interestingly, the first scene that the three principal actors shot together is the first time that their characters meet in the car. Immediately, before even feeling comfortable with each other, they were thrust into an intense and psychologically demanding situation. Bean reportedly got quite physical with Bush, ripping her hair and holding his knife right up to her eye. All three agreed that they continuously put each other into physically compromising positions throughout the shoot, with everyone going home with some bruises on a regular basis.

Initially, the casting was looking a bit more promising for The Hitcher. Jessica Biel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Illusionist) was attached to the female protagonist role for a substantial amount of time, while Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Matchstick Men) was considered to play Ryder. At one point, Meyers approached Rutger Hauer for a cameo, but the actor refused saying that it would not be a good move on his part unless he would play the Hitcher once again. My interest level in the movie would go up if any one of these stars somehow made it into the picture.

If you just cannot wait for the release of the film, here are a few curious tidbits about the storyline.


The infamous Wendy’s scene, where Jim finds a human finger in his order of french fries, has not made it into the flick. Given the recent lawsuit against Wendy’s, Meyers felt that having a scene like that in The Hitcher today might play out somewhat comical and would put a damper on the serious atmosphere. Of course, another scene in the original that made a lasting impression on many of the fans is the brutal truck scene. Nash is tied between two trucks with Ryder inside one of them. Jim and the police try to stop Ryder, but realize that they cannot touch him. If his foot slips off the break, he will kill her. Jim tries to reason with Ryder, but eventually, there is no stopping him. In the remake, once again there will be a twist on the truck scene, which Meyers claims will be greatly improved upon. Since Grace is the lead character in the film, it will actually be Jim who finds himself between the two semis.


Personally, I find the role reversal to be motivated primarily by the need to have an attractive, helpless, screaming girl carry the movie from start to finish. Most horror films nowadays seem to exist primarily for no other reason than to prominently announce the royal arrival of yet another scream queen. The Ring, Grudge, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchises all revolve around female protagonists. The Hitcher isn’t developing new or fresh ideas, but instead adapting a quality story to fit into the same tired ones.

In Conclusion: Meyers claims that he’s looking to make The Hitcher as realistic as possible. I think the movie will contain little realism or even plausibility for that matter. Once again the filmmakers are pandering to the audience by making the victims a couple of college students. If they were anyone else, all of America’s youth would simply have problems relating. And if they were not the attractive, fresh-faced actors that they are, the MTV crowd would have a difficult time caring. Obviously, I expect many of those futile and frustrating moments where the couple tries to explain their innocence to the police or attempts to get outside help, only to be met with that supporting character movie stubbornness that inexplicably prevents them from actually listening to the lead characters in need of help. Those moments are always fun, especially when they are followed by the inevitable murder of anyone, no matter how nice and innocent, that the protagonists come in contact with. In my mind, this is a movie destined to follow all the genre clichés and make a good buck doing it. Today, if a movie isn’t a horror remake, it’s a rehash of the same exact ideas. This one is both.

Similar Titles: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Taking Lives, The Hitcher
January 19th, 2007 (wide)
May 1st, 2007 (DVD)

Rogue Pictures

Dave Meyers

Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, Kyle Davis, Neal McDonough

Total: 90 vote(s).

Drama, Horror, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for strong bloody violence, terror and language

83 min





The Hitcher at AskMen.com

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