Unassuming Jim Halsey (C Thomas Howell) wishes he hadn’t picked up icy passenger John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) on a dark, rainy night in the middle of nowhere on an endless stretch of desert highway in this feature debut from director Robert Harmon.
Ryder is a serial killer who pulls a knife on Halsey and nearly forces the car off the road. Narrowly escaping and leaving the hitcher behind, Halsey’s nightmare has only just begun as a terrifying and psychotic game of cat and mouse ensues, with all who pass on the desert road becoming unwitting victims of the hitcher’s intent.
In a race against time, Halsey tries to raise the alarm but becomes a suspect himself when Ryder reappears and annihilates everyone in a small-town police station.
Jennifer Jason Leigh, as Nash the waitress who believes Halsey’s story, adds humanity along the way.
Despite the film’s huge lapses in logic and moments of wild self-parody, the plot twists generate considerable suspense.
It has become something of a cult film thanks to its surreal style and Hauer’s inimitable presence.
C Thomas Howell
Jennifer Jason Leigh
John M Jackson
Billy Green Bush