Saturday, October 15, 2011

Urban Legends and Rutger Hauer

As empty as the vast, expansive desert landscape, and bleaker than a starless sky, this movie thrives on nihilism. Into a young man's life a loner psychopath arrives, slaughtering everyone in his path, thus baptizing the young lad in blood and violence. Rutger Hauer's character is no ordinary man, for he appears whenever he needs to, operating as her were the boogieman or even the Devil himself. The poor young male is trapped in an endless nightmare, and through all of this he is given a twisted lesson, one he will never forget.

Utilizing the gorgeous and wide open spaces of the American Southwest, The Hitcher is a nasty, brutal film that never backs down or really lets up, save for a couple of moments. Rutger Hauer is mostly silent, and thus by only saying very little and letting his facial actions take center stage, he never stops being menacing or utterly frightening. He is a true sight to behold, and just looking into that strong gaze and those piercing eyes is enough to put the fear of God into any person. C. Thomas Howell plays his hapless victim very well, giving the audience someone to sympathize with-he is a likable everyman, caught between the police, who think he's guilty, and this maniac who never ceases to chase him. Jennifer Jason Leigh has the misfortune to be the woman who later accompanies Howell's character, a waitress who ends up being merely a pawn in a game being played between two men locked into a never ending struggle.

With a rather great use of color, particularly at the end with that haunting and stunning final shot, The Hitcher is rather well made. The fact that it never strays from its dark vision, or really cuts corners, makes it a primary example of good, solid film making, committed to achieving an end that is rather disturbing. Even nightmare fables deserve attention, serving as warnings for us all; this one empathizes one clear fact: never pick up a hitchhiker. Especially a guy who looks anything remotely like Rutger Hauer.

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