A remake of Wes Craven's 1977 horror flick of the same name, last year's The Hills Have Eyes
brought nothing new to the horror genre. But director Alexandre Aja's (High Tension) vivid modernization and incredibly grisly images shocked audiences all the same, and the popularity of that remake -- of course -- spawned this sequel, The Hills Have Eyes II.
There was a sequel to the original Hills in 1985 that had race-bound bikers busing their way across the desert and ending up stranded. This far bloodier version of the sequel has National Guard trainees on a routine mission falling into the hands of our favorite deformed mutants in the same desert as the unfortunate family in the 2006 movie. Article continues below
The characters are cookie-cutter military types: a hothead sergeant (Flex Alexander
), a mild-mannered nice guy (Michael McMillan
), cocky loudmouths (Jacob Vargas and Lee Thompson Young
), and swimsuit models (Jessica Stroup
and Daniella Alonso
). When they arrive at the former nuclear testing area in New Mexico, they discover a team of technicians has disappeared, and begin a search and rescue mission. They then find themselves trapped in the hills with only one way down, through the mutant-inhabited mines.
Like the first film, The Hills Have Eyes II delivers violent sequences featuring dismemberment, disembowelment, splattering brain matter, loud thuds, and creepy stringed instrument melodies. This time around, however, the shock value isn't as profound. The script (written by Wes Craven and his son Jonathan) fails to change the circumstances or raise the stakes of the first film, and thus nothing that occurs is particularly unexpected.
Additionally, director Martin Weisz
doesn't seem to realize that graphic violence wasn't the only shock of the first Hills. Alexandre Aja gave his film an emotional resonance. In the original, when the family's parents met gruesome deaths in front of their children, there was emotional shock. Here, the characters (and the actors playing them) seem detached and unconcerned, and there's little emotion involved. Weisz relies entirely on violence and gore.
The Hills Have Eyes II does offer some great chills. It has a creepy atmosphere and startling moments. The makeup and special effects are grotesquely impressive, and anyone in decent mental health will think twice about cruising through the desert for a long while after watching the film. It just seems like Hills 2 could have been more than a pale shadow of the original if the filmmakers had taken their time instead of rushing out a sequel one year after the original.