The Hills Have Eyes
Director: Alexandre Aja (High Tension)
Screenplay: Alexandre Aja, Grégory Levasseur
             Wes Craven (original 1977 screenplay)
Producers: Wes Craven, Peter Locke, Marianne Maddalena
Starring: Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin, Dan Byrd, Robert Joy, Ted Levine
MPAA Rating:R
Running time: 107 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

A good guy.
     Horror films are probably my least favorite genre. I keep reminding myself, unnecessarily of that fact by continuing to go to them. The Hills Have Eyes is a remake of Wes Craven's film by the same name that he made back in the 70's. I've only seen parts of that version and it was way back when I was a kid, so I can't really compare the two. My bet is though, that the original probably broke some boundaries and put Craven into the spotlight. This films reeks of a plot line I've seen a million times before.

      A group of people out in the middle of nowhere. Bad people are out to get them; freakishly bad people. There are pretty girls in the group. They scream and do stupid things. It's like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "House of 100 Corpses," "Wrong Turn," "House of Wax," or any other slasher, horror flick all over again. Nothing new. Nothing. Our heroes stop by the only gas stainon for hundreds of miles that is a run-down, dimly lit hut with dirty walls, holes in the roof and a creepy old man running the place. Sound familiar? Not to the vacationing tourists it doesn't. The creepy old man seems harmless enough, so they take his advice to follow an old dirt road in the middle of the desert that will get them to California much quicker than taking the highway. Is this believable or what? Guess what happens next? The good guys are terrorized til one or two of them decide it's time to fight back. Then it's a cat and mouse game through creepy buildings and desert trails for the few that are still alive.

      I will say this: the acting in this movie (at least from the protagonists) is far superior to most slasher movies. Kathleen Quinlan, the bad guy from "Silence of the Lambs," Claire from the TV show "Lost" and a couple other new-comers who actually do a pretty good job of getting me to believe in them. Of course, that is partly because we spend almost an hour with this annoying family before anything even remotely suspenseful happens. The whole first act of the film drags and drags while we watch the family bicker, make light of one another and complain about the heat.

      Finally we are introduced to some of the bad guys; a bunch of deformed freaks living in mine shafts out in the middle of New Mexico. They were deformed due to government nuclear testing out that way in the mid twentieth century. The first time we actually see them, it's supposed to be freaky or scary, but I heard more than one chuckle from my fellow movie patrons. I couldn't help but stifle a little laugh too. We've seen this before. Even true horror fans, I think, will not be purchasing this one on DVD in about a month.

A bad guy.
      So then it's blood and gore and depravity. Not that I was expecting anything less. It was, in fact, that I was expecting something more. Pick-axes through the head, gunshots to the head, frying pans to the head, shotgun butts to the head and sharpened screwdrivers to the...foot. People die, people live. People do everything you're not supposed to do in a horror movie.

      There are moments of genuine tension and the gore and acting is well done enough so that it's not campy. But each act drags on and on and there is nothing new or clever about any of it. It's just people being killed...again. The icing on the cake happens at the end when the most cliche tactic in motion pictures (especially action and horror films) occurs. If you don't know what that is, you may actually enjoy this foul piece of trash. Horror movies can be fun and inventive. This was just an excuse for the studio to try and make more money off of Craven's name. Run. Run for the hills.

Links: site
Official site of this crap.