Hitcher Skip this ride

By Gus Bode

‘The Hitcher’ Rated R Starring: Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton Directed by Dave Meyers Run time: 1 hour, 23 minutes Rating:

When Hollywood remakes bad ’80s horror movies, it should at least make sure the remakes are superior to the originals. It seems like a novel concept, but studios have continued to churn out crap based on old horror movies without improving the content.

Add “The Hitcher” to the list of crappy remakes.

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“The Hitcher” is not just a terrible movie, and not just a terrible remake. It is a film constructed entirely out of unoriginal ideas and cheap scares. Only a person who has never seen a horror movie before in their life could possibly be frightened by the proceedings.

The plot can be described entirely in clich�. We get the two pretty college students, Bush and Knighton, going on spring break. They stop at the weird gas station with the creepy gas station attendant and meet John Ryder (Sean Bean), who asks the kids for a ride. He tries to kill them and they ditch him, happy that they will never see him again.

Of course, they see him traveling with a family. This leads to an incredibly emotionally manipulative scene in which the family’s murdered bodies are shown, including the child’s blood splattered on plush toys. It was completely unnecessary for the filmmakers to make it a family, and the only conceivable reason for the scene is to establish how bad Ryder is, which easily could have been done with the death of a couple or something.

The two teens go to the nearest town and get framed for Ryder’s murders. The remainder of the film consists of Bush and Knighton running from the killer, and Ryder killing a bunch of people – sometimes more people than would be physically possible. But this isn’t a movie that stops for logic, thought or character development.

Working from a shred of screenplay by Jake Wade Wall and Eric Bernt, director Dave Meyers works to make his movie pretty, but it lacks flair or panache. Any person in America probably could have directed this trash.

The actors hold the distinction of being sexier than the original cast, but they all suck at acting. Bush and Knighton have no chemistry and the emotional capacity of teacups. Their shower sex scene is less racy than things seen on “Desperate Housewives.” On the other side of the coin, Bean tirelessly works to make his character scary and interesting, but the director favors long shots of Bush’s body over, say, creating a compelling and multilayered villain character.

The audience never understands why Ryder kills these people, even though at least three characters ask it. The script relies on cheap scares and musical stings to create tension. There’s a scene where a car literally falls out of the sky and doesn’t make a sound until it hits the ground. At least wind would whistle through it, right? No. The plot requires it to be silent. Even the gore, which is pretty graphic at times, seems almost boring compared to what’s been seen in far better movies.

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When the end finally comes, the tedious boredom ends too. “The Hitcher” represents all that is wrong with American horror cinema today. It is tired, clich�d garbage that has no right to be forced on the American public through theater screens. It belongs on the bottom shelf at Blockbuster.

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