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A young man transporting a car to another state is stalked along the road by a cunning and relentless serial killer who eventually frames the driver for a string of murders. Chased by police and shadowed by the killer, the driver's only help comes from a truck stop waitress. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
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Incredible achievement in the art department, but not for everybody
The Hitcher (1986) was a directing debut for Robert Harmon, who had previously worked as a cameraman. The film is written by Eric Red whose other credits as a writer include brilliant Near Dark by Kathryn Bigelow. The Hitcher tells the story of an ordinary young man, who is taking his friend's car to other state/destination through the empty and deserted roads of America. He is very tired and almost collides with a huge truck. It rains hard. Soon he notices a figure standing by the side of the road raising his thumb..Our youngster unwisely stops and says the legendary line: "My mom always told not to do this." And then, the incredible and surrealistic nightmare begins...
This film is unbelievably beautifully shot and it is easy to see that Harmon was cinematographer before this directing debut. Camera flows and moves so smoothly and gently that the atmosphere is guaranteed to last throughout the film. The music by Mark Isham is also extremely important element and with the exceptional camerawork, these are the greatest elements in this piece of difficult art. The scenes are very similar in mood to Kathryn Bigelow's Near Dark which has the unforgettable music by Tangerine Dream, and both films are scripted by Eric Red, as mentioned earlier. The Hitcher is one of the most beautiful terror films I've ever witnessed.
The Hitcher is not a realistic film and the hitcher character played by Rutger Hauer is not a realistic human being as he can follow the young protagonist (C.J Howell) anywhere and always knows where he is. He will kill the youngster no matter what and no one can tell why. Even the hitcher himself doesn't give a clear answer when he is asked why he kills and does these horrific things. My opinion is that the hitcher is a double side of Howell's personality (everyman's personality) and he is the bad and evil side of human beings' nature. The hitcher is pure evil and no one can change his thoughts and mind, because evil cannot be changed or turned into "good." It is about which side, evil or good, is one's primary personality. There are always both sides, but the both cannot influence at the same time..Howell has to destroy the hitcher/his bad and evil side in order to continue his life and recognize and accept his and others' "dual personality" in the future. There are no good persons in the world, there are only persons who can control their bad/evil side and keep it "un-active", and so they can be considered "good."
Couple of scenes are totally outstanding in their virtuosity such as the scene where two police cars are destroyed by a shotgun blast and they fly and crash in a slow motion. That kind of thing would never happen in real world, but those unrealistic scenes make this film even more nightmarish and effective. Also, the end scene between these two protagonists, Hauer and Howell, is memorable and gorgeously shot. I will definitely not spoil how this one ends, but at the end, the main character is much more wiser and knows that human beings and thus himself are not as simple as one might think..
There is no point in describing the greatest scenes in the film because the whole film is so great. It is unmatchable nightmare that has no equal in history of cinema. It handles the theme of wickedness in a form of road movie and horror movie and the result is perfect piece of art. When I said earlier "difficult art" I meant that due to the film's violence (there is not plenty, but that what is on screen is brutal and disturbing) this may be too hard to take and understand for most of the viewers. So this cannot be recommended for everybody like some mainstream movie, but people with open minds and hunger for intelligent and symbolic cinema should love this film, even though it is pretty difficult to "love" !
I have seen this three times now and it unfolds more and more with each viewing time. 10 out of 10 masterpiece.
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