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The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting

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The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting
The Hitcher II: Killing off a beloved character in favor of a bland female protagonist over a decade before it became fashionable.
Genre: Thriller
Directed By: Louis Morneau
Produced By: Charles R. Meeker
Written By: Molly Meeker
Charles R. Meeker
Leslie Scharf
Starring: C. Thomas Howell
Kari Wuhrer
Jake Busey
Photography: Color
Cinematography: George Mooradian
Release Date: July 15, 2003 (United States)
Runtime: 89 minutes
Country: United States
Prequel: The Hitcher (1986)

The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting is a 2003 American thriller film directed by Louis Morneau and starring C. Thomas Howell, returning as Jim Halsey, Kari Wuhrer as his girlfriend Maggie, and Jake Busey as psychotic hitchhiker Jack. It is the sequel to the 1986 film The Hitcher. The film was released on direct-to-DVD in the United States on July 15, 2003.


Fifteen years after the events of the original Hitcher, Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) has become a police officer, and is suspended for shooting an unarmed suspect in a child abduction case. Jim decides to visit his friend Captain Esteridge in Texas to confront his demons, and is accompanied by his girlfriend Maggie (Kari Wuhrer).

The couple arrive in Texas and are soon driving down the same stretch of road where Jim picked up the killer from the first film. They eventually encounter a motorcyclist, who crashes his bike and attempts to hitch a ride. Jim is reluctant, but Maggie insists that they can't leave the man to the incoming sandstorm, and lets the Hitcher (Jake Busey) enter the car.

The Hitcher, who claims his name is also Jim, seems upbeat and friendly, but Jim soon becomes suspicious and forces him out of the car at gunpoint. Maggie is horrified, but Jim insists that the Hitcher had a gun and would have killed them. The two continue along the road, but are soon pulled over for speeding. Suddenly, the Hitcher reappears and murders the arresting officer, and then tries to kill Maggie. She and Jim escape, and make their way to Captain Esteridge's house.

Finding Esteridge and his wife dead, Jim and Maggie are soon framed for the murders by the Hitcher, who has called the police and summoned them to the Esteridge residence. The Hitcher begins shooting at the police from a hidden vantage point, and Jim is mortally wounded in the ensuing firefight.

Jim dies later that night, imploring Maggie to kill the Hitcher. The next morning, she is abducted by the Hitcher and trapped in an abandoned water tower, which is on the verge of collapsing. Barely escaping, she makes her way to a gas station, but the Hitcher arrives and murders the clerks before starting another firefight with the police. Maggie and the Hitcher are both arrested, but the Hitcher managed to plant his shotgun on Maggie, and so the police wrongly suspect her of being the killer. The only man to believe her innocence is the Sheriff, Castillo. During her interrogation, Maggie learns that the Hitcher is now referring to himself as Jack, not Jim.

Maggie is loaded into a police van for transport, but Jack reappears, runs the van off the road, and kills the officers escorting her. Sheriff Castillo arrives, but he is also killed. Jack steals a tanker truck and escapes, but Maggie pursues him in a stolen crop-duster. She is eventually forced to crash the plane into the truck to stop it, and finds Jack unconscious in the cab. She ties the killer between the truck's cab and tanker, and threatens to tear him in half. Unconcerned, Jack taunts Maggie and insists he isn't the man who terrorized Jim fifteen years earlier.

Maggie prepares to kill Jack, but two police officers arrive on the scene and free him, still believing Maggie to be the killer. Jack murders the officers, but Maggie grabs a shotgun, gets to a safe distance, and shoots the tanker. The ensuing explosion kills Jack, and Maggie walks off into the sunset.

Why It Sucks

  1. It's unbelievable that Jim Halsey would just happen to encounter two psychopathic hitch-hikers during his lifetime. The film's only explanation is a few vague hints that Jack may be the reincarnation of John Ryder, the killer from the first film.
  2. The idea that Jack is the reincarnation of Ryder doesn't really ring true, since the two act nothing alike. Jack is upbeat and jokey, while Ryder was stoic.
  3. Jim Halsey, the compelling and well-acted protagonist of the first Hitcher, is anticlimactically killed off halfway through the film.
  4. While likable, Maggie isn't a terribly interesting protagonist. Her character arc, in which she develops from a frightened farmgirl to a hardened survivor, is over before it begins. She's willing to kill Jack very soon after he begins terrorizing them.
  5. Jack is a clownish, unscary villain. He spouts unfunny quips while killing people, and at one point impersonates a chef while making references to Emeril Lagasse.
  6. Maggie is shot in the leg during the firefight at the Esteridge home, but seems largely unaffected throughout the rest of the film. She is shot again in the leg during the final fight, but is still unaffected.
  7. Jack somehow hauls Maggie up into an abandoned water tower, despite the fact that the water tower is on the verge of collapsing due to Maggie's weight alone.
  8. The police are portrayed as completely useless and incompetent. Jack kills dozens of armed cops without breaking a sweat, and they don't suspect him even after finding him at a crime scene with no ID or anyone to vouch for him.
  9. Maggie is framed by Jack for the murders, and the police believe it wholeheartedly even though she has no criminal record or any reason to commit such crimes. Sheriff Castillo even brings this up, but is shot down by an incompetent District Attorney.
  10. A sub-plot revolving around Sheriff Castillo comes to an abrupt end when he is killed by Jack.
  11. The film's climax revolves around a boring, ridiculous duel between a crop-duster and a tanker truck.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The introductory scene, in which Jim apprehends a child abductor, is very clever and original.
  2. The scenery is gorgeous and atmospheric.
  3. The acting is decent.