Never having seen the original 1986 version of The Hitcher, I probably enjoyed this film more than I might have otherwise. Even still, this film suffers from what has been a noticeable saturation of recent horror movies with a "killer on the highways" motif (think Joyride, Jeepers Creepers, etc.). Basically, this 2007 film doesn't really offer viewers anything new or different, but I think it succeeds pretty darn well at what it does in fact deliver, due in large part to Sean Bean's menacing performance as the heavy in the story. You'll never hear me complain about the casting of Sophia Bush, either; she's particularly sexy when she gets mad. I can't say I was all too impressed by Zachary Knighton, but that had a lot to do with his character, who was something less than the kind of knight in shining armor a character played by Sophia Bush deserved. I must say I loved what they did with the lead male character in the end, though. For once, I saw a "don't you wish" moment come true before my delighted eyes.
So, Jim (Knighton) picks up Grace (Bush) at college to head off for some spring break shenanigans. Driving through a New Mexico rainstorm that night, the unobservant Jim all but runs over some weird dude just standing there in the middle of the road. Grace convinces her boyfriend to high-tail it out of there, but the weird dude turns up again when Jim stops for gas. Jim can hardly refuse to give the guy a ride up the road (thereby completing disregarding Grace's wise counsel), but it doesn't take long for "John Ryder" (Bean) to reveal his true nature, which is far more mad and dangerous than even Grace could have imagined. Jim and Grace don't know why this stranger is tormenting them, but they find themselves reluctant pawns in whatever dangerous game he is playing. The guy just keeps turning up everywhere they go, murdering many a person along the way. The kids can't even go to the cops because they would seem to be implicated in every crime he commits. All they know to do is to keep running, desperately trying to shake this stranger who seems intent on destroying them utterly.
The story is solid enough and the acting is pretty decent (especially from Bean and Bush), but the special effects probably stand out the most among the different aspects of the film. There are some thrilling car wrecks, the blood and gore is realistic (even though, unfortunately, we see few of the actual kills directly), and the pacing is good. It's a little on the short side, though, running a grand total of eight-four minutes. Still, in the end, I have to say that The Hitcher is not a bad movie by any means -- I don't think it will scare the vast majority of viewers or grip them in quite the same fashion as similar films such as Joyride, but it's still very much worth watching.