"This movie could leave a big purple bruise on your brain."
A stark, minimalistic, almost stream-of-consciousness horror movie. (I have already reached my pretentiousness quotient, just one sentence in.) The Hitcher will leave you scratching your head, numb as the rear end of a new fish in Shawshank. There are some scenes that are so intense and over-the-top, it almost becomes a parody of horror movies. Smartly directed with quick cuts and a pretty good screenplay, this is one nasty bitch of a movie.C. Thomas Howell stars. WAIT! Trust me anyway. The plot is pretty threadbare, but it suits the feel of the movie just fine: Absolute moron Jim Halsey (Howell, apparently typecast) is driving across the desert late one night when he decides to pick up a (large, blond and male) hitch-hiker on the side of the road. At first things are amiable enough, but soon the hitcher, John Ryder (clever name, that) begins to seem a little...not right.
What follows is a kinetic 95-minute chase. Like a cat on steroids chasing a mouse on crack. When the inevitable murders occur, our protagonist is always in the absolute worst place in the universe he can be. Nobody, especially the cops, believes the hitch-hiker even exists, and soon Jim is a fugitive from the cops AND Ryder. Jennifer Jason Leigh shows up as a sympathetic waitress who of course gets naked. To be fair, her character adds a lot to the plot. Jim's increasingly desperate attempts to clear his name always fall short, and he is consistently met at every turn...by more corpses.
Several sequences stand out: The helicopter-crash. The french fries. The police station massacre. The two gigantic trucks and a rope scene. Jims' quickly spiraling situation is depicted in graphic and desperate detail. As we sympathize with his plight, we are secretly thrilled, since the stupid idiot picked up the loon in the first place! "Hey, even I know not to pick up a large, blond, male hitch-hiker!! Moron!"
The Hitcher is simply a fast-paced, bloody and awfully entertaining modern horror movie. It's well-made, as director Robert Mandel and scripter Eric Red keep the audience praying for the villain's demise, yet fascinated by what horrid atrocity he will commit next. Really great and fun, but in a dark and nasty way.This is the flip-side of Martin Scorsese's After Hours (another awesome film). No matter what our brain-dead hero does, he just succeeds in sinking deeper. If Hitchcock weren't dead, he'd be making movies like this.