Bloody, Violent Disturbing and in your Face
For those whose idea of horror is bloody, violent, disturbing and in your face then the chances are the 2006 remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" will hit an accord. For those whose horror likes come from a compelling storyline which draws you in to a scene only to scare the shit out of you with the unexpected, well the chances are you will be bored. I know I was as I am fan of horror which frightens you by the unexpected and all I got from "The Hills Have Eyes" was a dull storyline and a feeling of repulsion at some of the bloody and disturbing scenes.
Whilst travelling across the New Mexico Desert heading for California, a family is misled by a garage owner and take a shortcut where upon their car is wrecked when they suffer a blow-out. Whilst two of them head off in search of help the rest remain with their car. But it soon becomes apparent that there are strange things going on in the desert when they are attacked by freaks who live in the hills having become mutants when the US Government used the area as a Nuclear test zone.
I've never seen Wes Craven's 1977 original "The Hills Have Eyes" so I can't say for certain how closely this remake follows but it appears to stay true to Craven's storyline. But I can't say that the storyline really impressed me, a family stranded in the middle of the desert that come under attack from a bunch of freaks, who happen to be there because many years earlier the US government were dropping Nuclear bombs on the region. Ignoring the whole nuclear malarkey, which is only there to explain the freak show of nasties and you have a bog standard tale of being stranded in the middle of nowhere. There are no new embellishments to make it any different to what's been done before and as such is rather dull.
The dullness is partly down to it taking an age to really get going. Yes there's an opening scene where some scientists get dragged off by these freaks but after that "The Hills Have Eyes" is painfully slow as we watch this family stop off at an almost abandoned gas station before heading off down a beaten track where they suffer an accident. The sense of suspense, the eerie foreboding off something bad never materialises and when they end up in an accident well the dramatic effect is lost because everything else has been bordering on the mundane.
Now the dullness most certainly disappears once we have the scene set with them stranded in the midst of nowhere one heading off in one direction for help the other in a different whilst the women and children stay at the accident. But this is where you're either going to love or hate "The Hills Have Eyes" because the horror on show can only be classed as bloody, violent, disturbing and in your face with scenes which intentionally repulse as the freaks attack and violate the women, yes I did say violate. For me whilst I felt repulsed I also felt bored because in your face blood and gore doesn't do it for me it doesn't frighten me, but those who do enjoy the feeling of repulsion then this is going to work.
It is also ruined by the expected ending where those who survive have to take on the freaks. That in itself isn't an issue, it's a horror so it's a normal ending but it is so drawn out it is ridiculous. I don't know what director Alexandre Aja was trying to achieve, maybe it was a sense of drama and tension, maybe it was padding out a movie to a more acceptable running length. But which ever it just didn't work, failing to really keep my attention as the screen is filled with more bloody, violent, disturbing and in your face action scenes.
What I will say is that on a special effects, visual level "The Hills Have Eyes" is impressive. The freaks do look like freaks and the bloody action scenes are so authentically disturbing that it could give some nightmares.
As for the acting well its solid, no one puts in a bad performance or ends up over egging things with camp hysterics. But surprisingly with a cast which features such recognizable names and faces as Ted Levine, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie de Ravin and Dan Byrd not a single person puts in a performance which stands out and becomes memorable.
What this all boils down to is that for me "The Hills Have Eyes" was just another average, modern horror movie which relies on bloody, violent, disturbing and in your face scenes to try and get a reaction. But it's not frightening; it has no suspense and is far too drawn out making it all a little dull in places. If bloody, violent, disturbing and in your face horror floats your boat then "The Hills Have Eyes" will most likely appeal but if you want to be frightened by the unexpected then don't be surprised when you're not.