Viewed: 1:20 am 1/19/07
Starring: Sean Bean , Sophia Bush, Zachary Knighton, Neal McDonough
Directed by: Dave Meyers
Rouge Pictures - Official Site of the Movie
The Hitcher opens with a quote telling us the exorbitant number of people that die on the highways of America each year. It’s a huge number, and there it is, setting the stage for the danger that is to come. The problem is that anyone with half a brain is going to immediately take into account that this larger than expected number of deaths on the highways each year probably factors in not just crazy hitchhikers slaughtering innocents, but also vehicular accidents. The quote doesn’t say one way or the other that it doesn’t include them, so why should we think differently? I don’t blame them for not pointing it out though because mentioning that the majority of this astrological amount of deaths is caused by people’s inability to navigate a 2-ton machine at 80 miles per hour, sort of takes the sting out of their threatening opening. They’re better off without it.
From there things progress nicely. There’s a dead body on the road within 30 seconds of the films opening, and there’s a nice fake out in how that body gets there. After that we’re introduced to our two young stars and before you know it we’ve got a shot of Sophia Bush in her underwear. Now THAT is how you start a good horror movie! Shock and gore followed by T and A. That tops a menacing quote any day of the week.
The Hitcher’s plot is fairly simple. Two kids rub a suspicious hitchhiker the wrong way and he toys with them, teases them, and sets them up, all before he goes in for the final kill. Little is told to you about the young couple other than their budding relationship and long drive ahead of them. Even less is told to you about the mysterious hitchhiker they pass in the road. And it’s a safe bet that what you are told about the hitcher is really just the pretty persuasion of a delusional serial killer charming his way into your car.
I have no problem with the lack of back-story because it’s not important for what’s going on in the short period of this movie. This is just about a crazy person attacking people, and those five words are enough for these filmmakers to assemble a horrifying chase that escalates almost as quickly as Bush’s clothes came off.
Without a traditional scripted back-story, a lot of pressure is put on the cast to make these characters real, because without that there’s no reason to have hope for these people, there’s no reason to care whether they live or die. Thankfully the relationship between Sophia and newcomer Zachary Knighton is very real. In between car crashes and discovering the recently butchered, there’s not much opportunity for these two to have the quiet moments needed to establish a proper relationship on screen. But they make the best of the one’s they’re given, and yes – one of those moments is a shower scene.
I’ve never been so sure about Sophia Bush but I’m impressed with what she’s been able to accomplish over the last few years. She’s taken her role on the struggling but cult favorite CW show One Tree Hill, and laid out the groundwork of a pretty solid movie career. Nearly all of her films are targeted at the same young audience her show has hypnotised, but her work has been solid throughout. And she looks great doing it.
Neal McDonough, who has been playing this sort of “tough guy” secondary part for years in movies like The Guardian, Minority Report and Band of Brothers, was great here as the sheriff pursuing the young couple. It’s amazing what he’s able to accomplish with a cowboy hat, a dimly lit room, and a walky talky. His balance of calm and intensity reminds me a lot of David Morse, another brilliant and entertaining character actor making the best of his supporting career. Wow, “supporting career” comes off a lot harsher than I intended. These guys are both real talents.
Excessive blood, shower scenes and quality acting in films that don’t necessarily warrant it are all well and good, but The Hitcher’s big draw for me was the chance to see Sean Bean go crazy. With an air of cool worthy of a man crush of Cusakian proportions, Bean walks over the horizon with an assault rifle casually propped up against his shoulder, as if to say, “Shouldn’t I have been cast as The Punisher?” Bean will make you believe in his awesomeness. If you’re a non-believer, when you hear the Nine Inch Nails song Closer fire up. Clean your glasses lean in a little and prepare yourself not to blink. Because you’re not going to want to miss a second of the chaos. Bean tearing down the road firing a pistol at a helicopter is something you don’t want to miss while you go to refill your popcorn.
I admit to being a huge Sean Bean fan. Few people can do so little and have the kind of presence that he does in a movie. Look at something like Flightplan where he’s on screen less than the little girl that gets kidnapped 10 minutes in and everyone is freaking out over. He walks in, acts brilliantly for forty seconds, and walks off. It’s amazing!
When I heard he’d be playing the hitcher I was over the moon because I knew he could play both ends of the spectrum convincingly. Charming and trustworthy don’t flop to desperately crazy with any kind of ease. As important as it was to have good actors playing the young couple, it was even more important to have someone like Bean as the hitcher. There’s no background, no obvious motivation, but we still have to understand and fear him instantly. It works. He was cool enough to trust and scary enough to fear.
In an article over at ComingSoon.net director Dave Meyers, whose background in music videos and commercials actually helped to keep this movie crisp and quick, talks about how important the soundtrack was to him. In the preliminary stages he chose songs that he felt represented the characters, never thinking that Dave Matthews or Trent Reznor would ever sign off on them. But they did. And it really brings something to the film. When Closer kicks in I just threw my hands into the air and screamed (in my head), “PERFECT!” Because so many people know the song so well, and it’s very easy to attach that primal want and need to the character. It shows how influential a proper piece of music can be in film.
The movie has a lot going for it but it’s not perfect. I thought the slaughter of a religious family and the close up on a Christian coloring book covered in blood was a little heavy-handed. Also, there’s no sense of where the movie will lead, which left me frustrated and constantly anticipating the end. They keep upping the anti, which is great, but for a first viewing the lack of structure didn’t go unnoticed.
In the long run structure is not too important for what this movie is. It’s scary and disturbing and action packed in the way horror fans want it to be. There’s a real art in making something that’s not all that scary difficult to watch and The Hitcher does that constantly. A great deal of patience is used in making you wait for scares that may or may not come. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Rating: 7 out of 10 - A lot of fun and the small cast with big explosions really make you never want to help anyone on the highway ever. It may not become the horror classic that its predecessor did, but in the age of remakes at least this is one that’s bearable.
You know, I’m not sure. I had a good time with it but kept feeling like it was about to end. Thankfully it doesn’t cut out early, but you know sometimes when you can feel the end of a movie coming and you just ask yourself, “That’s it? Why aren’t they going to do X, Y, and Z?” Well the Hitcher feels like that quite often even though they do eventually get around to X, Y, and Z, not to mention V, Q, and W. Whatever that means. My point is, when you feel a movie ending it can be frustrating. Watching The Hitcher a second time around might be more fun because I know it will live up to some of my expectations instead of ending to soon or not pushing the envelope. We’ll see. If it has a good set of extras I might be persuaded into picking it up, but normally horror movies aren’t something I need to go back to.
Yeah, sorry about the spoiler in the comic but come on… you knew he was going to die. Partly because it’s a remake where “the Hitcher” dies, partly because it’s a Sean Bean movie and he normally does die in those, and partly because you probably read last Wednesday’s Theater Hopper where Tom Brazelton basically set up my joke here. Thanks, Tom.
Once it was pointed out how often he dies I thought there was a great opportunity to really run with it. How often is their adequate set-up to introduce a squadron of Sean Bean ghosts? Not often enough, that’s for sure. Honestly, for every film Sean Bean dies in, there’s one where he lives. But the guy is prolific so the alive/dead ratio is still off the charts, and the idea was too fun not to go ahead with. The good people at thecompleteseanbean.com were good enough to keep a running tally. Thanks again to Tom for that link.
For the record, this comic features dead Beans from The Hitcher, GoldenEye, Equilibrium, and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings. These are arguably his most high profile dead characters but there are plenty to choose from should the SBDS ever rematerialize.
Featuring: Other Hitchin’ Movies - The original Hitcher with Rutger Haure is actually pretty cool but you should avoid at all costs the 2003 sequel which brings “star” C. Thomas Howell back to the road. That poor guy can’t catch a break. He had such a good start to his career with a great performance in The Outsiders but all he does now are low budget movies just before other people do them better. He starred in a version of War of the Worlds a year before Spielberg redefined it. He was in a remake of The Poseidon Adventure a year before Kurt Russell’s version cashed in at the box office. And he actually did something about a lost Da Vinci treasure last year. That’s messed up. Going with Howell’s record, the big blockbuster of ’07 is going to have something to do with “Street poets” or “Razors”. Mark my words. Or don’t.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was a disappointment. I had no attachment to the books but found the free flowing storyline to be a touch messy. Recently it was on TV and I thought I’d give it another chance. Some of the performances are a lot of fun including Mos Def and Alan Rickman, but the movie slows down to a crawl much too often. Don’t panic, just don’t bother.
Lastly … Hitch. I’ll save you some time. Watch this and this. There, you’re all set.
Featuring: Disturbia - I HATE this. I hate when you see a trailer for a movie and it looks like it might actually be fun but when the title is revealed you just shake your head and want to cry. “Disturbia”? Seriously? That’s seriously the title of your movie? “Disturbia”? Like “Disturb” in “Suburbia”? I think we’ve got a nice front-runner for worst movie title of the year.
The movie stars Shia LaBouf and David Morse in a modern day Rear Window. It might as well be a remake but you can tell from the trailers that they’re putting a few modern twists on it. To avoid the limitations of a crippled lead actor they’ve confined LaBouf with a low jack. You heard me right, the modern day “broken leg” is “house arrest”. Not a bad idea because it allows your lead to be active, and you know that final battle is going to be knock down drag out war. But what’s stopping him, after learning about a murderous neighbour, from just walking across the street and bringing all the cops to his front door? I hope they handle this one right.
Bad title and unoriginal concept aside, it looks like it might be kind of fun and I enjoy the two actors involved. I’m a little wary of director D.J. Caruso whose work in the past with films like Taking Lives and Two for the Money has been strong… but long. He tends to meander past the point of interest. Hopefully a modern horror movie will have him tightening things up.
Check it out – a new feature! It used to be that you’d watch a movie and then you were done with it. Then Laserdiscs and DVD’s came out and all of the sudden there are deleted scenes, director commentaries and a slew of other extras we never thought we needed. But we did.
For the longest time the Internet was used primarily as a way of advertising a movie but in the past few years, movie companies have gotten really creative with the content they’re offering. It’s gotten to a point where a trailer and an image gallery on a movie’s web site aren’t close to being enough to satiate moviegoers. Look at movies like Snakes on a Plane and Borat. One that used the Internet to win a Golden Globe and the other that crashed and burned over it’s own on line buzz. It’s a powerful medium and it’s time we took a closer look.
In this section I’ll be pointing out the coolest, craziest ways a particular movie impacted the Internet. Be it video outtakes on Youtube, interactive interfaces, or even articles bashing it to death... I’ll be pointing you towards some extra content that adds something to the experience.
For the Hitcher I went right to the main site at neverpickupstrangers.com and found the standard stuff you’d expect. What caught my eye though was a list of “Deadly Highway’s” across America. The link brings you to a map with over 100 listings of real life hitchhiker stories that ended in tragedy. There’s at least one in each state so if the movie didn’t scare you away from picking up strangers, perhaps this map will.
Well, it’s Monday, and you know what that means. Another instalment of the Triple Feature. That is of course the weekly podcast I do with Tom Brazelton and Gordon McAlpin ever Monday at 9pm EST. We discuss everything from movies to… well mostly just movies, but seeing as we’re all web comic creators that do comics about movies, that’s got to be forgivable right? Check out the live shows every Monday night or download them directly from Talkshoe and listen to them on your time.
I’ve been out of the game pretty bad the past couple of weeks. I can’t kick this head cold, plus Phil and I have been putting the finishing touches on a Matriculated collection and it was far more work than we imagined going in. It’ll be worth it in the end but I hate it right now. It’s got me not wanting to draw anything at all. I just need a nap and a Snickers and I’ll be fine.
If you’re not reading Matriculated, you should be. It’s actually better than JLCM.
I hope you guys dig the new “Internet” feature I’ve set up. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while because I do so much research on line and I usually come across one or two cool things for any given movie. If you guys find something nice for an upcoming movie just shoot me an e-mail. I’m always looking for fun stuff. Later on.
Live Journal/Myspace/Rotten Tomatoes/Buzz Comix/Top Web Comics/Comics on the Ipod/The Webcomics List/Online Comics/Wikipedia/Comixpedia/JLCM Map!
Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V