THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2
** (out of 5)
March 23, 2007
Michael McMillian as NAPOLEON
Jessica Stroup as AMBER
Daniella Alonso as MISSY
Jacob Vargas as CRANK
Lee Thompson Young as DELMER
Ben Growley as STUMP
Studio: Fox Atomic
Directed by: Martin Weisz
BY KEVIN CARR
With so many horror movie releases over the last three or four years, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep them in perspective. Sure, there are good ones like “28 Days Later” and “Cabin Fever,” but more often than not, these films kinda stink.
And the industry knows it. Why else won’t they screen movies like “The Hills Have Eyes 2” for critics. We’re told it’s because they won’t have a print ready until the release, but we all know that these films are going to be raked over the coals by the critics.
Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by these horror releases that never get screened. For example, I didn’t think “Hostel” was as bad as most critics did, and I really do enjoy the “Saw” movies. I’ve been critical of the remakes of 70s classics, like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but I didn’t find the first “The Hills Have Eyes” remake all that repulsive.
These ultra-violent horror flicks really aren’t my cup of tea. Give me a good teen slasher film, or better yet a monster movie like “The Thing” or “Alien,” and I’ll be happy. Even growing up, I steered away from the rape-murder-revenge plots. Call me crazy, but I just don’t find rape all that entertaining. I guess it’s a necessary part to these “Hills” films, but if I had my druthers, I could do without them.
There’s an uphill battle for “The Hills Have Eyes 2.” The first movie really set the standard – both in the 70s and in the modern age. It had an interesting juxtaposition between the mayhem murderers in the hills and the innocent family, complete with a nursing baby, getting attacked.
The new film tries to live up to this, only coming from a different angle. Instead of a traditional family, writers Wes and Jonathan created a family of National Guard soldiers. They’re in the middle of their training, and they aren’t doing so well. They’re green, inexperienced and generally incompetent.
After a massive training failure, the team is ordered to assist some scientists in the mysterious Sector 16, which is the lovely countryside we saw in the first film where mutants live in the hills, feeding on human flesh. Of course, once the soldiers get to the hills, their incompetence really starts to get them in trouble. It’s clear from the beginning that the mutants are toying with them, causing them to split up and playing with them like a cat plays with a baby rabbit before it bites its head off.
If you’ve seen the first “Hills Have Eyes,” you know what you’re getting into. When presented with the green soldiers, you can’t help but guessing who will die first, which of the girls is going to be captured and raped, and which of the bunch are going to survive.
Because the story’s been done before – and more effectively – “The Hills Have Eyes 2” is nothing more than an exercise in waiting for the body count to rise. The characters are pretty shallow, not offering much to identify with. They make mistakes and dumb moves throughout the movie, from leaving their rifles unattended to going to the bathroom alone. Didn’t any of these characters watch horror movies as kids?
Additionally, I had less sympathy for the characters in this sequel because they aren’t the innocent civilians who took a wrong turn. Sure, they’re green, but they’ve had far more combat training than I’ve had, and I could have survived better in the hills than these folks did.
This isn’t much of a treat for anyone but gorehounds and rabid fans of the first film. Yeah, it has all the elements in place for a tricked-out horror flick. And from the first scene, which features a bloody, screaming, live mutant birth (which I still can’t believe they got by the censors), you know you’re in for a mess of a film. If you don’t walk out in the first few moments, you deserve gut wrench, gag reflex and skin crawl you get for the rest of the film.