An updated version of Wes Craven’s 1977 film of the same name,”The Hills Have Eyes” is the story of a family road trip that goes terrifyingly awry when the travelers become stranded in a government atomic zone. Miles from nowhere, the Carters soon realize the seemingly uninhabited wasteland is actually the breeding ground of a blood-thirsty mutant family…and they are the prey.
Cast: Ezra Buzzington, Aaron Stanford, Emilie de Ravin, Kathleen Quinlan, Ted Levine, Vinessa Shaw, Dan Byrd, Robert Joy.
Gritty and realistic just like the original.
“The Hills Have Eyes” is a remake of Wes Cravens original 1977 movie where a road tripping family winds up stranded in a government atomic zone, which is inhabited by a very nasty mutant family. The 2006 remake really captures the spirit of the original and in a way is way more twisted also. This film revolves around the Carter family Brenda, Bob, Bobby, Ethel, their oldest daughter Lynne, her husband Doug, and their baby daughter. Prior to introducing us to the Carter’s, the beginning of the movie quickly laments the idea that the Hills do have eyes when 3 CDC agents are made short work of by someone weilding a pick axe. It’s a very entertaining and gory scene which sets the mood and tone of the movie nicely, before the opening credits roll. The Carter’s are driving to San Diego for a good old fashioned family vacation.
Now before the rationalists step in and say huh? Doug brings up the million dollar question early in the film, of why couldn’t they have just “flown” like normal people? As if trekking through the desert heat wasn’t bad enough, the trailer they’re pulling behind them has a busted air conditioner much to Doug’s dismay. The early impression of the Carter family is your typical american red state american family. While Doug comes off as more of the liberal democrat type, despite being married to their oldest daughter.
This culture clash is set up nicely and works to enhance the films early dialogue which keeps the movie interesting early on. Because of their differing beliefs, Bob Carter does not particularly care for Lynne’s husband Doug, and they spend a lot of the early moments of the movie taking snipes at each other which are sure to extract some giggles and laughs from the viewer. Taking a page out of the “Wrong Turn” book, we are introduced to a desert yokel who may or may not be leading people into those “Hills”. It isn’t necessarily said that he’s doing this, but it is strongly hinted at and he does definitely know about the Hill people.
After the Carters fill up the gas tank, this man hips them to a short cut which according to him will save them a couple hours. The Hill people meanwhile are watching and taking yet another page out of “Wrong Turn”, they set up a spike trap to blow out the tires of the Carter family SUV, stranding them in the desert. Alex Aja does an excellent job building suspense in this movie because after the opening scene, we don’t see the hill people anymore until about 35 minutes into the movie. But Alex keeps us on the edge of our seat with scenes that strongly suggest they are out there, lurking, watching, and waiting for the perfect time to strike. Aja also keeps the Hill folks hidden most of the time. The only one we really get a full look at early in the movie is Ruby, who compared to the rest of the Hill people looks mostly normal. The Hill people themselves are a disturbing looking bunch, and the sounds they make along with their violent and perverse actions throughout the movie are equally disturbing. Why are they violent and perverse?
Well to make a long story short, the government wanted to test their “toys” on their land. The families refused to leave, so the government tested their “toys” there anyway. The radioactive effects caused severe deformities to all human life within the area, and when you mix years of festering anger over the matter, plus horrid deformities, you’ve got very fertile land for violent, anti social behavior. Once the Carter’s become stranded in this desolate wasteland…most of the scenes that follow are spent with their son Bobby chasing down their two german shepards “Beauty” and “Beast” who continually escape from the car and go running off into the hills, with one of the dogs having the unfortunate luck of crossing paths with one of the Hill people. Why someone would bring two adult dogs that size with them on family vacation I’ll never know. Bob the dad, and Doug decide to go seek out help for their dire situation, which is where the film begins it’s descent into madness as the Hill people seize this opportunity to attack the remaining members of the family.
Obviously…albeit deformed and borderline retarded…the Hill folk understand that these suburbanites…like in the case of most families, are at their most vulnerable when the two adult males of the group are gone. The trailer attack scene is the highlight of the movie as a lot of shocking events unfold during which include the loss of three main characters, and a very disturbing rape scene. Wes Craven and Alex Aja who wrote the script for “The Hills Have Eyes” really didn’t slink off on the graphic nature of the movie, staying true to the original. The deaths even though there aren’t very many, still carry a very big impact because of how the scenes are set up and written to take place. Craven and Aja also do a great job with the revenge angle of the story, as those who managed to survive the trailer attack, decide to take the fight to the people in the Hills who have not only taken the lives of their loved ones, but also have kidnapped Doug and Lynnes baby.
The final act of “The Hills Have Eyes” is outstanding in it’s franetic pace, and overall intensity. It carries a lot of suspense, awesome fight scenes, lots of blood, gore, loss of limbs, and carnage, and we get to fully see the Hill freaks which there are more of than at first thought. You’d be surprised to know that besides Aaron Standford who gives an awesome performance as Doug, one of the Carter family dogs carries the final act of the movie very nicely and at the screening I attended was certainly a crowd favorite. I am not sure which dog it was because both Beauty and Beast were the same breed, but whichever one it was, it…along with an unexpected ally, certainly did their fair share of helping to battle the films villains. “The Hills Have Eyes” while slow in a few early areas, does an excellent job of building suspense and containng all of the elements a true horror movie should. Backing all of that up with above average performances, a substantial amount of blood and gore, and boasting a very strong 80’s horror feel, it ranks right up there with Wes Cravens original.
Good performances especially by Aaaron Stanford, even though the previews will have you believing Emilie De Ravin is the star of this movie, Stanford is the one who’s involved in more scenes than anyone else. Blood, gore, and horror elements were strongly present which is always a plus. Also gotta love that heroic dog which saved Doug’s ass more than once. The vacant desert and empty smalltown settings also worked to create a lot of suspense throughout the movie. The Hill folks as the villains of the movie were really good.
I felt Emilie De Ravin should’ve had a few more scenes than she did. Other than that nothing major.
A worthy remake, and a fun time at the movies. Definitely worth the price of admission.