Written by Grégory Levasseur and Alexandre Aja
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Running Time: 1:46
for strong gruesome violence and
terror throughout, and for language.
The Hills Have Eyes started off slowly, but when it picked up, it really picked up and turned into a bloody, disturbing mess of a film that will keep horror fans happy.
The participants in this mayhem of madness are former police detective "Big Bob" (Ted Levine), his wife Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), daughter number one, Lynn (Vinessa Shaw) who is married to Doug (Aaron Stanford) and have a new baby, daughter two Brenda (Emilie de Ravin) and son Bobby (Dan Byrd), and the dogs, Beauty and Beast. The crew is on its way to San Diego when they're sidetracked into a world of horrifying freaks. It seems the U.S. Government did some nuclear testing in the area and the inhabitants of the area decided not to leave and have turned into mutated monsters who enjoy eating people. Needless to say, not all the family members survive the onslaught.
It took about 45 minutes for The Hills Have Eyes to really pick up. Up until the gas station owner got drunk, the movie was very slow. It was a big build up with some small scary things happening, but basically just a lot of visuals to keep the audience on the edge of their seat. Yes the movie opens with a brutal attack, but it was quick and then pushed aside. After that we follow the family, knowing full well they're going to meet their doom, but wondering when it would happen. And then all hell breaks loose and you end up with one of the bloodiest movies I've seen in a while. The only thing I didn't like was the rape of one of the characters. I realize this is a horror film and there is nothing more horrific than that kind of violence, but personally speaking, I can't handle seeing that in a movie, no matter what the situation.
One of the games I like to play when watching horror movies is to figure out in which order people are going to die. I played the game this time out and didn't get it all right. A couple of the cast were obviously going to die, but the order was wrong, at least in my head. And in fact, when all was said and done, the manner of death wasn't anything special. More of the freaks ended up dying in entertaining ways. There were various tools like a baseball bat, an axe, a couple of guns and a few other things that were used, but I think there could have been more. What the movie really hangs it hat on is camera work and visuals, setting the audience up for a scare then paying off quickly and painfully. And for the most part it worked, because even when you know exactly when something was going to happen, it still is a shock when it does, and that's a good thing for a horror movie.
When you go to a horror film, you either want to be truly scared, or disgusted. This movie isn't by any means a psychological horror film; it needs horrifying visuals in order to create the right mood. The mutated humans were ugly enough to work, and their attitudes were rather mean-spirited. Seems to me they'd have left the desert and gone after the government rather than innocent passersby, but what do I know. I've never been subjected to nuclear testing. As far as I know. I guess if I had been no one would tell me, but I do sometimes wonder about the second head coming out of my neck. Yet, I digress. Story-wise the movie isn't anything special. Nuclear testing over human population is bad, yes, then these tested become killers so watch out. So basically you go for the violence and if you like horror films, you'll be happy. Oh, then there's the ending. It's not giving away much to say the movie is set up for a sequel, because most horror films are. But generally a sequel will take place days, months, sometimes even years in the future. The way this movie ends, the sequel will take place approximately five seconds after this one ends. I'm not sure that was the way to go. And what one of the characters goes through in order to survive is a bit hard to imagine, but then again, the entire movie is a bit hard to imagine. No one goes to horror films like this for realism, do they? Of course, the entire movie idea is based upon Sawney Bean and his family in 17th century Scotland, where they lived in caves for 25 years, robbing, murdering and eating random people who wandered too close to their home. So maybe something like this could really be happening in the New Mexico desert. Are you gonna be the one to find out?
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed The Hills Have Eyes. It has what you want in a horror film: scares, blood, gore and lots of violence. It lends itself nicely to many sequels and horror fans will be satisfied.
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