Eyes Wide Shut
Though far from perfect, Alexandre Aja's remake of The Hills Have Eyes was one of last year's better entries into the horror genre. Of course, its success meant that a sequel would soon be on its way, so The Hills Have Eyes 2 is now upon us. Sadly, this follow-up movie takes a nice, long dip in the pool of unoriginality.
Set two years after the events in the first movie, The Hills Have Eyes 2 focuses on a new group of individuals who will end up as the victims of cannibal mutants living in an area of the New Mexico desert. This time, a handful of green National Guard trainees, made up of such stock archetypes as the Slow Fat Guy and the Dangerous Hothead, are serving themselves up for the cinematic slaughter. Assigned to help out a team of scientists at a desert base, the soldiers arrive to find the place abandoned, with someone apparently trapped in the surrounding hills seeking help. Some investigate while some stay behind, but soon, all of the troops fall under attack by the deformed derelicts who call the area's caves and old mines their home. One by one the soldiers are killed off, forcing the survivors to band together, save what little ammunition they have, and do whatever it takes to stay alive.
What separates The Hills Have Eyes 2 from its predecessor involves a matter of personality. True, being a remake of an older horror flick, The Hills Have Eyes didn't have much originality to start with, but the film more than made up for it with characters that stood out (even the bloodthirsty mutants were discernable) and an underlying premise of having to go from a comfy world of convenience and technologies to a more primal mindset in order to stay alive. The Hills Have Eyes 2, though, isn't so much jarring and disturbing as it is gross and disgusting. It's about as derivative, boring, and uninspired as horror movies can get. Granted, this movie may be a smidge better than the first Hills Have Eyes 2, a sequel to the original Wes Craven film that made such laughably stupid decisions as giving a flashback scene to a dog, but this new version is bad enough in its own way.
Didn't the studio care about the film's quality? The movie looks like it was simply rushed into multiplexes while the horror iron was hot. How else to explain the poorly thought-out plot (I'd think a battle between rock-wielding mutants and soldiers with automatic weapons would be a stacked fight...), the ultra-thin characterizations, and the yawn-inducing rogue's gallery of mutants? At least the first Hills had a variety of subhuman creatures to be freaked out by, but here, viewers get "the ugly one" and "the other ugly one" for antagonists.
The actors in this film are instantly forgettable, not effective enough to make you care about their fates or even remember who's who by the time you get to the parking lot. And while a couple of the attack scenes evoke some suspense, the gore seems almost too gratuitous, more likely to test your gag reflex than to put fear in your heart.
No doubt the original Hills Have Eyes and its remake are solid scary movies, but both sequels end up doing everything in their power to give the horror genre a bad name.
MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)
(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "R" for prolonged sequences of gruesome horror violence and gore, a rape and language.)