Monday, August 25, 2008

Movie Review: The Hitcher - 2007

The Hitcher

Starring: Sean Bean, Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, and Neal McDonough

Directed by: Dave Myers

Written by: Eric Red, Jake Wade Wall, and Eric Bernt

Production Company: Focus Features, Intrepid Pictures, and Platinum Dunes

Release Date: January 19, 2007

Awards: Teen Choice Awards - Choice Actress: Horror/Thriller - Sophia Bush
Teen Choice Awards - Choice Movie: Breakout Female - Sophia Bush

In choosing a movie for review, I look at a plot synopsis to see if the idea sounds interesting. Sometimes the plot synopsis doesn't quite sell me, and everytime with remakes, I need an idea of what people thought, so I check reviews. In doing this with The Hitcher, I learned that Rutger Hauer, who played John Ryder in the 1986 original, was offered a cameo role but declined for artistic reasons. He's said that he's never watched the film and friends who have seen it have told him he shouldn't.

Not a glowing endorsement, but because of Sean Bean, I gave the remake a shot.

When the movie started, I thought I saw at least one of the problems...The opening included a cgi jackrabbit hopping toward a road where it gets squished. It was clear the jackrabbit was computer generated, and I wondered why they wouldn't have used a real rabbit and the stuffing and fake bloody rabbit bits for the remains. The scene would have been almost identical. Unnecessary use of cgi is a drawback. Later we followed a dragonfly that gets squished on the windshield of Jim Halsey's Oldsmobile 442. The dragonfly scene was almost identical to the opening of Men in Black even down to the guts on the windshield. I tried to find a connection between the two films, but I haven't found one.

So expecting bad cgi special effects where old school effects would work much better, I watched as Jim Halsey and girlfriend Grace Andrews encounter hitchhiker John Ryder...and I was impressed.

Naturally, Sean Bean as Ryder carried the movie. When we first see him, he's standing in the middle of the road on a rainy night walking away from a car with emergency blinkers flashing.

Appearing out of nowhere, we are left wondering from where he came and to where was he going before Jim and Grace crossed his path. Are his last victims still in the car left flashing on the side of the road?

Bean adds menace to that mystery with skill. So intent on being able to play the cold, detached psychotic, Bean distanced himself from Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton (Grace and Jim respectively) during shooting. Bean's Ryder with a deathwish captivates as he terrorizes, an essential element to the villain of a horror movie.

Jim Halsey is played by Zachary Knighton. Knighton does a reasonable job as confident, trusting Jim, though Knighton has little opportunity to do anything memorable with the character.

Sophia Bush, as Grace, pulls off an effective role as the naive girl who has to become strong and fearless because of Ryder's threat. She handles the transition well, prooving she didn't get the job just because she looks good in a skirt.

Neal McDonough plays Lt. Esteridge, the police officer trying to untangle the murders that are pointing toward Jim and Grace as the murderers. McDonough's portrayal shows us that Esteridge knows there's more going on than meets the eye, but until he figures it out, he's sticking to the book.

There may not be anything profound or groundbreaking about this movie, but it's good for an hour and a half of diversion. And the end with Sophia Bush carrying the gun is worth your time.

Where Are They Now?

Sean Bean's next movie will be Ca$h!, a thriller set for 2008. In 2009, Bean will star in the dramatic mystery Black Death. Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life, a mission that pulls him toward a village ruler who has made a dark pact with evil forces. While not strictly labelled a horror movie, it certainly sounds like it will contain horror elements.

Sophia Bush hasn't signed up for any other horror films at this point, but her next film will be the drama The Narrows. The movie is based on Tim McLoughlin's novel "Heart of the Old Country", which follows Mike Manadoro, a 19 year old Brooklyn boy who is torn between two worlds. When Mike's photography portfolio wins him a partial scholarship to NYU, he must figure out how to balance his tight knit Italian neighborhood roots in Bay Ridge with the opportunity to emerge into the expansive, sophisticated world on the other side of the East River. His job at a local car service doesn't earn him enough to make up for the rest of tuition. His father, a retired sanitation worker on disability, refuses to support Mike's attempts for financial aid out of pride. Mike ultimately takes a job making deliveries for Tony, the local mob boss, to make up the gap. Mike not only has to balance work with his academic assignments, he has to manage his personal relationships as well. This includes his attraction to a beautiful, cool, intellectual young woman, Kathy Popovich (Sophia Bush) he meets at NYU with his responsibility to his long term, girlfriend Gina from the neighborhood he's promised to marry. The stakes grow higher as he faces consequential choices in turning his back on all he knows and pursuing a new life. This compelling coming-of-age story combines suspense, murder and loyalty.

Zachary Knighton appears next in the comedic, wave twisting tale of a soul searching surfer experiencing an existential crisis, Surfer Dude, starring Matthew McConaughey and Willie Nelson.

Next month, you'll be able to see Neal McDonough in Forever Strong, about A talented-but-troubled rugby player who must play against the team his father (McDonough) coaches at the national championship. Other future movies in which Horror Movie Night Revelers may be interested include Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li where McDonough will play Bison set for a February 27th 2009 release date, and The Seed, a sci-fi action thriller about a mysterious killer who returns from the past, and forces a young detective to return to a case that took her mother's life years before also scheduled for 2009.

Dave Myers has not directed a film since The Hitcher.

Eric Red's next screenplay will be 100 Feet starring Famke Janssen. After Marnie Watson kills her abusive husband in self-defense, she is condemned to house arrest... only to discover that the house is possessed by the enraged and violent spirit of her dead husband. 100 Feet is scheduled for release sometime in 2008. Red has another horror film in production, Nightlife, in which a woman searching for her sister finds herself entangled in a deadly triangle together with a handsome male vampire and her next of kin. Red will also be directing the 2009 release.

Jake Wade Wall followed his work on The Hitcher with Amusement about three women who are stalked by a killer with a grudge that extends back to the girls' childhoods. Amusement will come out on December 26, 2008. In 2009, watch for Clock Tower. Upon receiving news of her mother's strange disappearance, a teenage girl returns to the family lodge only to discover a shocking supernatural family secret.

Eric Bernt followed The Hitcherwith The Echo. An ex-con moves into an old apartment building, where he encounters a domestic problem involving a police officer, his wife, and their daughter. When he tries to intervene, however, a mysterious curse entraps him.


kelloggs said...

I can't believe Hauer said that! Ah, great review, and I hated this movie. You make me want to watch it again though, and pay attention a little better, lol.

Bodog said...

What made you hate the film?

kelloggs said...

Ok it's been awhile since I've seen it, so please excuse the lack of detail, but I remember really hating this movie because of how, well, unrealistic it was. I don't normally hold horror movies to a realism standard, BUT, and correct me if I'm wrong, is there not a scene where the antagonist is simultaneously driving a car and shooting a helicopter out of the air with a 9mm? Even I didn't buy that crap.

Bodog said...

Ah, see...common misconception...I did just that two weekends ago. A challenge, sure...