It's early evening in the midwest. Across the region, radio broadcasts are interrupted with startling news: a handful of dangerous patients have escaped from the Lincoln County Mental Institution. It is against this dramatic backdrop that we encounter two men on an isolated backcountry road. Pete, a young mechanic, is stranded after his car breaks down. Frank, an older man driving a 1964 Chrysler, offers him a ride. As the two men drive through the night, it becomes apparent that Frank's dark and dangerous past will shatter both their lives.
Inspired by films like The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Detour (1945), and Touch Of Evil (1958), the psychological thriller The Hitch-Hiker also takes visual cues from German Expressionism and Film Noir.
My purpose with The Hitch-Hiker was to tell a story that played on the audience’s expectations about an innocent traveler being confronted with a dangerous individual on an isolated backcountry road. I knew that with this concept, I would be able to address the theme of morality and the concepts of good and evil.
Given my thematic and visual interest in and passion for expressionist and noir films from the early to mid-twentieth century, I knew that I wanted to use dramatic low-key lighting and exaggerated hard shadows. I also knew that I wanted to use rear projection methods such as those used in classic films. Finally, I knew that colour, or a lack of it, should also play a prominent role in the film, especially with respect to memory. These three ideas formed the formal base of the film to allow for the exploration of ideas such as artifice, consciousness, identity, and morality.
From an aural standpoint, The Hitch-Hiker had to have music that was time and regionally specific (1940s-1960s old country/western and surf music), while also incorporating some of the dramatic diegetic cues familiar to fans of classic cinema. I also challenged the sound team to play with expected and expressionistic sound cues by giving them the creative freedom to explore ideas, especially during the dramatic parts of the film.
Director, Writer, Producer