Classic. That is one way to describe the brilliant film known as The Hitcher. Hanging its story from great moments of action and shocking imagery this is a true piece of horror that will make you afraid of anyone trying to hitch a ride. If you only ever see one film by director Robert Harmon make it this one.
The plot follows a man named Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) who after escaping a man named John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) is stalked by the menacing hitcher who seeks to kill him or be killed himself. Rather than going down an very dark route as the title would suggest The Hitcher spends relatively little time in the dark and while it has plenty of gory and chilling scenes they take place during the day time. The opening is one of the films best scenes and almost acts as a warning to the viewer about how serious it gets from there on.
The effects were all excellent. One particular scene involving a severed finger was very convincing and one of the scariest moments because the audience notices it long before Jim does. All of the gore and explosions were kind of wicked and the later really came into full effect during the climactic chase about half way through the film. The best use of the blood, however, comes when a dog is revealed to be chewing on a dead body which is properly grisly.
The acting was top quality all the way from beginning to end. C. Thomas Howell was excellent in the role of the main character, Jim Halsy, who over the course of the film goes from victim to survivor. Love interest Nash is well played by Jennifer Jason Leigh and adds a bit of emotionality to the film outside of the strange relationship between Jim and the villain. John Ryder, the films central villain, is perfectly portrayed by Rutger Hauer who is a real menace every time he appears in unexpected fashion. A bit of mention should go to Jeffrey DeMunn who’s character, Captain Esteridge, is a bit under used which is a shame because he is actually quite cool in the few scenes he appears in.
This is a real piece of horror that deserves the title of classic thanks to its casts great performances and brilliant story. Tense, gory and full of great action packed set pieces The Hitcher is a dark thrill ride that few can match with such precision.