The Hitcher is an unnerving movie thanks to the unforgettable performance of the late great Rutger Hauer. I was surprised at how much it creeped me out from beginning to end. There's something all too real about a murderous hitchhiker needling his way into your life and driving you insane. The entire movie is one big cat-and-mouse game between John Ryder (Hauer) and Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell), a young man who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Jim picks up a hitchhiker, who immediately gives off a murdery vibe. He casually mentions that he killed the last guy who picked him up. Jim, smartly, kicks Ryder out of his moving car the first chance he gets, but that's just the beginning. Ryder follows Jim and frames him for multiple murders, making Jim a big target for local police. The tension and anger you feel towards Ryder for destroying Jim's life like this is palpable, especially when Ryder brutally murders Nash (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the young woman who tries to help Jim clear his name. It's terrifying because it's real. Killers lurk among us, and sometimes these things actually do happen. Maybe not to this extent, but still.
The Hitcher is a horror classic that, for me at least, features the greatest performance Rutger Hauer ever delivered. Ryder is a force of nature, the boogeyman, and the devil all rolled into one psychotic maniac that I will never forget. Never a dull moment, and a satisfying yet open conclusion, this is a film that deserves to be seen by way more people.