In The Hitcher (2007), a young couple sets out on a road trip. When they make the ill-fated decision not to pick up a hitchhiker, they make an enemy for life. When the couple happens upon the very same hitchhiker at a gas station, he makes sure that they do pick him up this time and also ensures that the young lovers pay for their fateful mistake. Their unexpected passenger plays a sick series of road games with them and will not be content until he has succeeded in ruining their trip.
Like a lot of remakes released in the early to mid 2000s, The Hitcher (2007) is an unnecessary reimagining. The original film is so intense and so well made that it doesn’t necessitate a remake. There is nothing significant for a reboot to improve upon. In addition to being uncalled for, this redux also fails to properly differentiate itself from the original. The plot is too similar to the 1986 original for this reimagining to stand on its own. Anyone that has seen the original will know exactly what is going to happen and when. There are subtle changes to the screenplay but nothing so drastic as to really allow this reboot to stand on its own.
Music video director Dave Meyers directs this 2007 redux. While he is able to recapture some of the atmosphere from the original feature as well as to recreate a modicum of the claustrophobia the viewer feels from being trapped in a car with a psychopath, this remake is still lacking in several other ways. Any intensity the film manages to build is struck down by the feature’s various other shortcomings. The combination of poor casting decisions and a screenplay that doesn’t differentiate itself enough from the source material put Meyers in a tough spot but I would still be interested to see what he can do with an original screenplay. The few things that do work about The Hitcher (2007) are mostly thanks to his involvement.
Zachary Knighton and Sophia Bush are both miscast in the lead roles. They look and perform like they would be more comfortable in a drama on the CW network. Poor casting decisions seem to be a common mistake when putting together a reboot. It’s important to differentiate the new film from the original but it’s also important not to cast people that don’t fit the role and have nearly no hope of succeeding.
Of the leads, Sean Bean is the only semi-suitable choice in The Hitcher (2007). He is logical replacement for Rutger Hauer but even a capable performer like Bean isn’t able to recapture the magic Rutger Hauer created in the original feature. Some performances should not be recreated and unfortunately, this is one of them. Sean Bean has some noteworthy dialogue that he delivers with creepy poise but it just isn’t enough to carry the film. He makes a good villain but when you are stacked against one of the most memorable performances in ‘80s horror, it is almost impossible not to fail.
If you haven’t seen The Hitcher (2007), don’t go out of your way to check it out. It is the kind of film that is suitable to watch if there’s nothing else on TV and you don’t have anything better to do. It’s not going to bowl anyone over but if your expectations are low enough, you may find a small amount of enjoyment from this film. It never had a prayer to outdo the 1986 original but it would have been nice to see a screenplay that tried a little harder and lead characters that didn’t read like fish out of water.