Heeeere?s...a B-Film Villain!: Sophia Bush tries to survive The Hitcher.

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The Hitcher opens, as slasher films often do, with a this-could-be-you! statistic ­about highway fatalities. Not about hitchhiker-related fatalities, mind you. And not about how many serial-killer victims have been found near highways. Just a factoid about, you know, driving dangers, which the filmmakers deemed relevant to the movie because, I guess, both involve roads. It’s just as silly as Hollywood’s now yearslong trend of churning out horror-flick remakes, which makes the worthiness of each successive redo more tiresome to debate. But here’s the rundown on the most recent one: the 2007 version of The Hitcher, the directorial debut of music-vid veteran Dave Meyers, is a nearly scene-by-scene re-creation of the 1986 original. Written by Eric Bernt (Romeo Must Die) and Jake Wade Wall (2006’s When a Stranger Calls)—­with a giant credit to the first movie’s scripter, Eric Red—the new version swaps the lone, mousy traveler played by C. Thomas Howell for Grace (Sophia Bush) and Jim (Zachary Knighton), a hot, young, blank couple on spring break. In the middle of a rainy night they nearly hit a stranded motorist (Sean Bean); Jim wants to help him out, but Grace refuses. When they stop at a gas station later on, however, they run into the guy again, and when the dopey cashier suggests that Jim give him a lift, Jim’s too much of a wuss to refuse. So, kids, meet John Ryder, the psychopathic stranger your parents apparently never warned you about. Bean, scruffy and squinty, certainly doesn’t look like the friendly type, but he also doesn’t come close to capturing Rutger Hauer’s inhuman, flat-out batshit chilliness as his villain hunts the pair in nearly supernatural ways. Like the original, you don’t have to completely buy the premise to feel its tension. Meyers keeps the action unrelenting from beginning to end, shooting snugly to mirror the characters’ predicament of seemingly having no safe place to turn. But the director does make a few odd, laughable choices, such as morphing Grace into an expert, arms-wielding Terminator. Vying with the introductory stat for the most head-scratching moment, however, is a spectacular and particularly deadly chase that’s oddly set to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” all the way up to the “I wanna fuck you like an animal” part. It’s a small but persuasive argument for leaving well enough alone.