HITCHHIKER MASSACRE (2016)

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There are several characteristics of a ‘massacre’ and without being too pedantic it typically boils down to the scale of the event. You might even consider its indiscriminate nature. But here neither of these things is true and it seems that the film-makers just needed an attention grabbing title for the movie. Accuracy isn’t really their strong suit in general looking at the vague title card which says this is all ‘based on actual events’ (they should have probably used ‘inspired by’) and the synopsis which claims there are cannibals in this story (there are none). The film derives many elements from other horror pictures but there are no flesh-eaters here, even if they do borrow one of Fulci’s infamous eyeball gags from Zombi 2. But for all the references included the execution is far from inspired.

From the snap zoom effects of The Evil Dead and faux grind-house effects and visual tricks from Death Proof, there are a lot of ingredients in here all fighting for attention. There’s even a less than convincing ‘reel missing’ joke minutes into the film which isn’t a good sign. Something like this wasn’t ever going to be projected on a reel of film. But none of this is of a particularly high calibre, and the low quality of the post production film defects that have been added is very distracting. Fortunately these sort of moments subside after the opening scene, but they does crop up randomly every so often. There’s little in terms of consistency or logic. Maybe they added to signal which parts of the film are the horror scenes? It’s difficult to determine.

In other sequences there are yet more copycat black moments when black and white film is used to censor some of the bloodiest moments. It’s hard to believe any of this was a real artistic choice and it feels like a series of simplistic attempts to do something cool that was seen in another film. Elsewhere there are technical problems that raise more than a few eyebrows from the stock sounds to the music. There are a lot of the usual gruesome cutting and chopping sound effects as well as a dramatic piano discord that gets used way to often. However I’m almost certain that an a interrupted vinyl LP scratch sound is not something that’s supposed to happen during scene transitions.

I’d like to say they were aiming for comedy here but it’s impossible to say what anyone involved was thinking. It’s just all so messy and random changes in colour temperature don’t help. Truly bad films generally have a consistent level of scrappiness to them at least. Maybe they should have stopped trying to reference Quentin Tarantino and gone with Amir Shervan instead. If they could reach his level. But here I am rambling about the methods and you just want to hear about the body count. Yes it is at least true there are some travellers on the road trying to hitch a ride who eventually get the axe. But at what cost?

The storyline involves hitch-hiking girls wearing short shorts being picked up along the highway by a creep wearing a military jacket. The main victims are a cheerleader, a waitress, and a girl role playing with her boyfriend. The last one isn’t even a real hitch-hiker but I don’t think anyone is paying attention. It’s certainly not a high brow affair. There’s plenty of low angles of uncovered skin and a lot of sleazy music. Although the mix of bad rock music and shall we say… ‘erotic sound effects’ is odd to say the least. What little atmospheric background noise they use is surprisingly minimal, with more focus on random instrumental tracks that rarely fit the action. It’s all pretty tone deaf as the story jumps from one scenario to the next with little pacing or build up.

There are a few b-plots thrown in including a local sheriff trying to solve the missing girls problem and a drug addled guy camping out in the woods nearby. The main thread involves the killer and his big money making scheme – selling organs South of the border. His quips about the phone company being the real criminals suggest they could have got a bit more screen presence out of the guy, but real acting ability isn’t on the cards for anyone involved. Random flashbacks highlight his past escapades but there are no interesting slasher moments. There’s also no real sense that these were meaningful kills when scenes are spread around so much. Showing his past failures and suggesting his methods had become more calculated would have added to the character.

Elsewhere the hero of the film does all his best detective work using an old internet route planner. But he also has the power to trace an emergency call in mere seconds and at the same time see if the caller has a criminal record. The strange clash of low-tech computing and sci-fi cell phone gadgetry is at least pretty amusing. Meanwhile the happy camper dances around yelling at his absent spouse while talking about getting high, which is unrelated to any of the killings. Despite the lack of congruity it’s one likeably weird moment. This is a film where box cutters are used to perform precision surgery and people have sex with their underwear on. Maybe it’s a comedy after all? I have a hard time believing that was the intention.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

About Mocata 120 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, world cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

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