(2 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Sean Bean teaches Sophia Bush a lesson about picking up strangers
Sean Bean teaches Sophia Bush a lesson about picking up strangers

On the way to a weekend of booze, sex, and ski boats at Lake Havasu, Grace Andrews (Sophia Bush) and Jim Halsey (Zachary Knighton) run afoul of a motorist with a bit of car trouble who turns out to be murderous lunatic John Ryder (Sean Bean).  Panic ensues as the couple has to flee for their lives not only from the nefarious Hitcher but also from the New Mexico State Police who have mistakenly fingered Grace and Jim as the assailants in many of the Hitcher’s devious crimes.  Car chases, explosions, shoot-outs, and an interesting ending involving a big rig leave our mishap-laden heroes torn between certain death at the hands of a madman, or the wrathful long arm of the law that may or may not want to hear their side of the story. 

So what have we got?  Boy and Girl on their way to Arizona for a sex romp, almost kill a stalled motorist.  Motorist turns out to be a murderer.  Boy and Girl get pulled into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse, framed for a crime they didn’t commit, a daring escape complete with a PG-rated “sex” scene in a motel shower…and the clichés go on from there.  Most of the time, a movie strewn with predictable plot twists (and holes) would be a deterrent to the ticket-buying audience; however, you can’t have a campy, cheesy horror flick without these essential aspects. 

While some of the more “delicious” parts from the original 1986 version are missing, music video director Dave Meyers was able to update the Eric Red script, relying on the help of Jake Wade Wall (When a Stranger Calls), without giving it that “re-hashed” feeling.  However, character ineptitude by a cast largely comprised of WB (or whatever the hell it’s called now) alumni left most of the audience yelling direction at the screen—and not in the cool “Oh my god the killer’s behind you!” kind of way, but more like: “You idiot!  You have a gun!  Shoot him!  Shoot him you, dumb bitch!”  (Real quote overheard from the audience.) 

It’s still hard to determine whether the movie was a good one or not; on one hand you have clever cinematography, well placed bolts from the blue, and a well played, menacing villain that taunts his prey oh so well.  Then again, you have characters who position themselves in an awkward situation that yields their either taking the Wilford Brimley approach of being whiney bitches and doing things only because “It’s the right thing to do” or the more venerable Steven Seagal tactic of pulling out your gun and shooting the fucker in the face since he’s driving alongside you

It’s actually fun to get angry at this movie, because the obvious choice to kill the bad guy when you can (subsequently ending the movie 45 minutes early) is never taken, and for the amount of times that it occurs in this movie, one really gets his money’s worth.  Besides, for all the clever villainy, better than average cinematography, questionable character dynamics, and gratuitous gore (thank you for that, by the way), it’s worth doling out the eight bucks to see so many people die.Image

Mark Johnston, a native Californian, has travelled the world with various circuses, sideshows, and arena rock tours. As a musical monkey he has delighted fans the world over. Upon his return, he has since founded the Atomsmashers Publishing Company, written 2 books in the company's Warm Horchata series, created a weekly comic strip based around LA's more "colorful" characters, written reviews, articles, and rantings under various pseudonyms; this has since culminated in Johnston being named Captain Fabulous by the Superhero Association of America.