Our nation's artists are so obsessed with terrorism these days, even Batman is planning to put the smackdown on al Qaeda. In a world where Osama bin Laden still walks free, who really cares if the government conducted some nuclear tests in Nevada a few decades ago, and a few stupid miners didn't get out in time?
With producer Craven watching over his shoulder, Alexandre Aja directs and co-writes the "Hills" remake -- but he wisely focuses on gruesome spectacle over politics. The film once again starts with some deformed homicidal maniacs committing spectacularly gory and disturbing acts. But then the plot takes a welcome detour, wrapping up with the crowd-pleasing qualities of a good Bruce Willis movie. ("Die Hard" with mutants?) If studios insist on remaking classic horror films, this is definitely the way to do it.
The new "The Hills Have Eyes" is filled with great characters, over-the-top violence and the type of truly bizarre events that suggest there were some insane personalities on the set in real life. Much like that Marlon Brando/Val Kilmer version of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" that came out in 1996, you get the impression that the writers and actors were having contests to see who could stuff the most peyote in their mouths.
The movie begins with the extremely dysfunctional Carter family traveling across the desert on the way to San Diego. Like the Griswold family taking a wrong turn in the Family Truckster, they end up in the middle of nowhere with zero contact with the outside world -- except the aforementioned hill-dwelling mutants.
The beginning borders on plodding, but all is forgiven about 45 minutes into the film, when the antagonists come into full view in a scene of extreme depravity and violence. We probably shouldn't let another paragraph pass without pointing out that "The Hills Have Eyes" is one of the most starkly violent R-rated movies of the past few years. There's a scene where one of the bad guys points a gun at a baby's head -- and it's maybe the 12th-most disturbing image in the movie.
The cast is outstanding, filled with a blend of reliable character actors and interesting up-and-comers. Standing out are Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill in "Silence of the Lambs") as the family's patriarch, Emilie de Ravin (the blonde with the baby on "Lost") as his spoiled daughter and especially Aaron Stanford (Pyro in "X-Men 2") as the weasel son-in-law.
"The Hills Have Eyes" is a good movie for the first half, and then becomes great at about the one-hour mark. Without giving too much away, the movie flips horror conventions midway through, turning the victims into the aggressors.
It's a credit to Aja and co-screenwriter Gregory Levasseur that they can take the weakest character from the first half of the film, and create semi-believable circumstances that turn that person into a badass. The only thing that gets crowds cheering more than an underdog action hero who kicks butt is a dog that does the same -- and there's a German shepherd in this movie that's more resourceful than all of those slackers in "Eight Below" put together.
In the middle of the movie, as the plot holes involving the nuclear testing are filled, the themes aren't particularly thought-provoking. Considering what happened in New Orleans last year, even "The Day After Tomorrow" seems more relevant for our times than "The Day After."
Because falling buildings have replaced mushroom clouds in most of our nightmares, the movie must thrive purely on its entertainment value, and it does. Cold War or no Cold War, "The Hills Have Eyes" is a blast.
I didn't think the movie was very good, it was actualy very disturbing.
I haven't seen the movie but I heard it wasn't good.
The movie wasn't reaaly awful, in my opinion, the original was better.