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 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 at ruining their trip. And their lives.
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 reimagining to improve upon. In addition to being uncalled for, this redux also fails to properly differentiate itself from the original. The plot is just similar enough to the 1986 original for this remake to avoid ever being surprising. Anyone that has seen the original will know (for the most part) what is going to happen and when. There are changes to the script but nothing so drastic as to really allow the remake to justify its own existence.
Music video director Dave Meyers helmed 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 flick’s various other shortcomings. The combination of poor casting decisions (Zachary Knighton is tragically miscast) and a screenplay that doesn’t differentiate itself quite enough from the source material put Meyers in a tough spot. I will say that the (precious 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. Which isn’t totally shocking considering that 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. 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 this is one of them. Bean has some noteworthy dialogue that he delivers with creepy panache but it just isn’t enough to carry the film. He makes a good villain but even he can’t save this feature from itself.
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 any chores to do. It’s not going to bowl anyone over but if your expectations are low enough, you may not hate everything about it.