The Hills have eyes… again… as well as a creepy ability to move unseen and undetected in spite of the fact they’re carrying enough weapons, tools, and victims to be heard over a rock band in concert.
“Big Bob” (Ted Levine) has insisted in combining a family vacation across the southwestern states with a move to San Diego, California. In tow are his wife, his youngest son and daughter (Dan Byrd and “Lost’s” Emilie de Ravin), his oldest daughter and her husband (Vinessa Shaw and X-men’s Aaron Stanford) and two dogs named Beauty and Beast. Our future victims are of course directed down a wrong turn in the New Mexico desert where mutated miners live on the US nuclear testing grounds, but which victims will lay down to die and which will have the guts to fight back at any cost?
Practically a stock plot, creepy locals prey on vacationing strangers passing through unfamiliar territory. Since none of the characters ever pick up on this immediately (or check with AAA, or check a freakin’ map, or Google their route), we get the same plot where we wait and hope to see a few interesting kills and any real freaky emotion behind them. This remake of The Hills Have Eyes isn’t the train wreck of The Fog remake but does fall short of the few improvements to the Dawn of the Dead remake. Let’s break ’em down…
Forget the tagline, “The lucky ones die first,” implying they maybe everyone is captured (or should have been) and MAYBE someone hears a friend or relative being tortured enough to actually do something about it. No, the survivors of the first wave are given all the time they could want to pad the film’s running time. Whereas we could have seen a cool underground network of tunnels (one possible yet unexplained reason how the muties move around so quick and quiet), the Miner 49’ers instead prefer to hang about “test town” next to creepy sixty-year old mannequins still set up for nuclear tests. If this was meant to be grotesque or even freaky, it falls short after about thirty seconds. The rest is a cat-and-mouse endgame with an infant as the prize, and the producers again show they have no idea where to go with this one a last-minute MacGyver emerges with an explosive idea.
Horror by commitee, or remake for the sake of profit, take your pick. Or perhaps there was a bit of a political agenda when “democrat who hates guns” is forced to act. At least the end result is better than director Alexandre Aja’s last film High Tension, but a crippled plot ensures this Hills remake contains none of what worked for Tension. If you’d like to see the best version EVER of this recycled storyline, watch Breakdown with Kurt Russell and J.T. Walsh… no nuclear testing required. Otherwise, is it coincidence that the title of the film rhymes with The Shills Sell Lies or that the lucky ones saw something else?
(a one skull recommendation out of four)