As one who has never been a big fan of movie remakes, I have always been supportive of the idea of remaking a bad movie to make it better. It doesn’t seem all that difficult a task. The filmmakers already have a blueprint of the original film so it can be studied to see where and why things went wrong. All they have to do is come up with a few decent ideas to take the new film in a direction that is dramatic and believable and certain to entertain. If you want to watch movies with a great plot and storylines then you should Download Netflix that has a wide array of movies, TV shows, animations, and much more a nominal price.
With that, it is with great disappointment that I must announce that the current remake, “The Hitcher,” manages to take a weak original and make it look like a classic compared to the new version.
1986 original, you may recall, starred C. Thomas Howell as a young man on a road trip who makes the near-fatal mistake of picking up hitchhiker Rutger Hauer just to alleviate the general boredom that comes with making a cross-country trip alone. Unfortunately for Howell, Hauer turned out to be the sickest of psychos who killed off any party who was willing to give him a ride.
The original film had a good idea but was saddled by a sick screenplay in which we are treated to such sights as a severed finger in a bowl of French fries and a woman tied helplessly between two semi-trucks with the hitcher at the wheel of one of them, willing to rip her apart at any second. The film’s violence ended up being a detriment to what could have been a first-rate thriller but instead became merely a geek show.
The new version finds not one but two college kids (boyfriend and girlfriend) out on a road trip who make the near-fatal mistake of entrusting a ride to the wrong person. The first of the films many problems is that the two leads are poorly written, unappealing teenagers. These two are no better developed than any teenager you would find in a “Halloween” sequel or, perhaps, in any other slasher film. In the original Howell was a young twerp on his own who is going to take on an adventure that is not only going to make a man out of him but could ultimately result in him losing his marbles and becoming a madman as well. In this version, the girl is the main character and she isn’t presented as a weak type who will grow to be stronger as her will is tested. The gender switch is simply a gimmick with no purpose by the screenwriters attempting to add something new to the story.
The next problem with the film is the casting of Sean Bean in the title role. Bean has been an accomplished character actor for 20 years and always gives an interesting performance in whatever film he appears. That is certainly the case here. Unfortunately, Bean is all wrong for the part. Rutger Hauer has a sense of madness you can see just by looking at him. He smiles at you and you wonder what demented thoughts he has lying beneath the surface. The audience knew full well that giving Hauer a ride would be a big mistake but Howell was too naïve to see that. The audience here doesn’t have that same reaction. Sure, we know giving Bean a ride is a mistake but that’s because we know the story and we know Bean is going to terrorize these poor kids. Had this been the original film we wouldn’t have any reservations about seeing Bean get into that car and wouldn’t believe for a second he was capable of doing what Hauer does.
The new version also fails to back off on the sickness of the original. Apparently the makers of this film felt that was the best part of the original. It certainly was the most memorable part mostly because the script wasn’t strong enough to support the sick scenes with anything else. The same goes here.
The boyfriend in this version is supposed to supplant the female character from the original. In that film, Jennifer Jason Leigh played a waitress in a diner who took a liking to the pitiful Howell and ended up getting caught up in a storm of terror and violence simply because she was nice. One of the few virtues of that film was the handling of Leigh’s character (at least until her final scene) and how a nice woman turned into a helpless, terrified child at the hands of this madman. Here the boyfriend is a convenient add on so the writers don’t have to concentrate on creating a good sympathetic character when there is one already there. In other words, the writers of this new version are just plain lazy.
With this latest horror remake coming on the heels of other failed remakes such as “The Fog,” “The Amityville Horror,” “When A Stranger Calls,” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” maybe it’s time for Hollywood to leave those originals alone. Even though most of them are average at best they are certainly miles ahead of their modern-day counterparts. It’s obvious that Hollywood, for whatever reason, has a history of not being able to improve on bad originals.
Maybe it’s time for Hollywood to just create more original horror movies again. Look at the bright side. If it turns out bad it will only be about 20 years before an even worse version is made.