American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"The Hitcher" begins and ends with the same sound: a match being struck, flaring into flame. At the beginning of the film, the sound is made by the villain, a hitchhiker who is a mass murderer. At the end of the film, the sound is made by the hero, a young man whose life has been spared so that he can become the special victim of the hitchhiker.
The movie seems to be telling us, by the use of the sounds and in several other ways, that the killer and the hero have developed some kind of deep bond through their shared experiences.
The victim's identification with his torturer is not a new phenomenon. In many of the hostage cases in recent years, some of the captives have adopted the viewpoints of their jailers. What is particularly sick about "The Hitcher" is that the killer is not given a viewpoint, a grudge, or indeed even a motive.
He is deliberately presented as a man without a past, without a history, who simply and cruelly hurts and kills people. Although he spares the movie's young hero, he puts him through a terrible ordeal, framing him as a mass murderer and trapping him in a Kafkaesque web of evidence.