PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) and Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) are tormented by a mysterious hitchhiker named John Ryder (Sean Bean).
The couple hit the road for spring break. Ryder dangerously stands on the road, near his broken down car. Jim nearly hits him and his car spins out of control. Grace insists that someone else will stop to help and they speed off.
At a gas station, Jim sees Ryder climb out of a tractor-trailer cab while gassing up. Ryder introduces himself and asks for a ride. Reluctantly Jim agrees. While on the road, Ryder becomes violent and holds a knife to Grace’s throat. Ryder tells him the only way to save himself and Grace is to say, “I want to die.” Jim screams out “I don’t wanna die!”. He then hits the brakes hard, causing Ryder to hit his head on the windshield. Jim then speeds up, kicking Ryder repeatedly until Grace opens the passenger door and he is ejected.
Later Jim and Grace drive down the road and see a station wagon with a couple of kids playing in the back seat. Ryder appears in the back of the car, apparently hitchhiking. Grace and Jim try to warn the family of Ryder, but they are run off the road by an oncoming tractor-trailer which totals Jim’s car. With no other choice after Jim’s car is totalled, the couple is forced to continue on foot. They eventually find the family’s station wagon on the side of the road. Both children and the mother are dead, with the father slowly dying.
Hoping to find help for the dying man, the couple take the station wagon and head towards town. Ryder appears, and attempts to run them off the road in a stolen truck. Jim and Grace stop at a cafe, where the father dies. Suspected of committing the murders, Jim and Grace are arrested and brought to the police station. Grace is interrogated while Jim is held in a cell. Ryder shows up and kills everyone at the station except Jim and Grace, who flee on foot.
Shortly after, the couple arrives at a junkyard. Grace attempts to negotiate with the lone surviving cop from the station. When this fails, Jim and Grace order him at gunpoint to get into his car to allow them to escape and prove their innocence. However, before he can enter the car and leave to get reinforcements he is shot in the head by Ryder. Another officer just arriving witnesses this and begins shooting at the couple as they attempt to escape.
Despite suspecting that there might be a third suspect, Lieutenant Esteridge (Neal McDonough) sends several cruisers and a helicopter after the couple, telling his men to use any means necessary to stop them. Ryder shows up in a 1979 Trans Am and helps Jim and Grace escape the police, managing to single-handedly blind shooting, take out all of the cruisers and the helicopter.
Grace and Jim walk to a motel after their cruiser breaks down. After sharing a shower, Jim steps out of the room to make a phone call. He is gone for several hours and Grace falls asleep watching Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. She is awakened by someone in the bed who is fondling her. Ryder tries to rape her, but Grace manages to fight him off and hide in the bathroom with a revolver.
Ryder disappears as Grace searches for Jim. The motel manager sees her with a gun and calls the police. Grace finds Jim and sees that he is tied between a truck and a trailer. Ryder looks in the side-view mirror and revs the engine, moving the truck a few inches. This hurts Jim and Grace runs to the cab to find Ryder sitting in the driver’s seat. Grace points the gun at him and tells him to stop the truck. Ryder keeps hitting the gas, brutally hurting Jim. The police, who still think Grace and Jim are the killers, then show up and see Grace with Ryder at gunpoint. They do not realize who is behind the torturing of Jim, who they can barely see chained to the truck. They tell her to drop the gun, but Ryder tells Grace not to listen to them. Ryder releases the pedal (moving the truck at speed) and Jim is split in half at the waist, killing him. Grace is devastated. Ryder and Grace are then apprehended by the police.
The next morning, Esteridge tells Ryder that he will be transported across the state. He also tells Grace, whose innocence has been proven, that the real John Ryder is missing and they do not know the true identity of this hitcher. He also informs her that he’ll be taking her for psychiatric care and released to her parents. Ryder is bound in handcuffs with a bulletproof vest and placed in the back of a police van, with Grace and Esteridge driving behind them in an SUV. During the ride, Ryder is able to break free of his restraints, kills the guard who is watching him, and shoots the driver. The driver loses control and rolls the van, taking out an oncoming car, which crashes into Esteridge’s SUV.
Lieutenant Esteridge’s leg has been trapped in the accident. Grace takes Esteridge’s gun, leaving him unarmed and helpless, and slowly makes her way to the van in which Ryder is caught. Grace opens the back door, whereupon Ryder takes her gun and locks her in the back. Ryder sees a pool of gasoline near the van, and shoots it, igniting the van. Grace manages to get a shotgun from the front seat of the van right before the gasoline explodes. Ryder shoots Esteridge in the head and walks away. However, Grace survives the explosion and shoots Ryder several times, finally killing him and ending his rampage.
There was a time when you could pick up a hitchhiker off the side of the road and not have to worry about them slicing you up. Those days have passed, though, as we can see in The Hitcher. If ever there was a public service announcement for not picking up random people off the side of the road, this is it.
What did I like?
Bush. Even though she isn’t that great of an actress, I am a fan of her unrivaled beauty. This is the kind of film that she is best suited for, something where her looks can be an asset and her acting won’t necessarily be a hindrance. If only she didn’t have such an unfortunate last name. For those that wonder if she’s been in any film’s before, you may remember her from John Tucker Must Die.
Random acts of violence. The hitchhiker, played by Sean Bean, is some kind of violent, sadistic murdering menace who apparently has had something happen in his like that makes him wish to die and cause suffering to everyone else. His best murder involves two trucks, that’s all I’m going to say about that.
Quotes. There actually isn’t much in the way of memorable quotes uttered through this picture. As a matter of fact, the stars of this film just prattle on about how they need to stop this hitcher, but that didn’t really do any good. However, when Neal McDonough pops up and is monitoring things, he has some memorable lines. Listen out for them.
What didn’t I like?
Why? I would have liked to have known why spurred on this killing spree by this hitcher. I’m not saying I want an entire backstory, but maybe a flashback or some exposition that says maybe his wife was killed by a drunk driver or something along those lines.
Keystone cops. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a police force more incompetent that these jokers. They see this couple with a man dying in their arms and assume they’re the killers, rather than someone trying to help. Does no one in New Mexico do actual police work?!?
The Hitcher is not the worst horror film, but there isn’t anything memorable about it. There isn’t as much murder as you would like for it to have and the story is just lame and forgettable. This is what happens when you do a remake! I don’t recommend this, but won’t say you shouldn’t see it. Watch at your own risk!
2 3/4 out of 5 stars