Boasting an upgrade in production values,The Hills Have Eyes
should please new-generation horror fans without offending devotees of Wes Craven'soriginal version
from 1977. There's still something to be said for the gritty shock value of Craven's low-budget original, made at a time when horror had been relegated to the pop-cultural ghetto, mostly below the radar of major Hollywood studios. With the box-office resurgence of horror in the new millennium--and the genre's lucrative popularity among the all-important teen demographic--it's only fitting that French director Alexandre Aja should follow up his international hitHigh Tension
with a similarly brutal American debut to boost his Hollywood street-cred. Working with cowriter Gregory Levasseur, Aja remains surprisingly faithful to Craven's original, beginning with a bickering family that crashes their truck and trailer in the remote desert of New Mexico (actually filmed in Morocco), where they are subsequently terrorized, brutalized, and murdered by a freakish family of psychopaths, mutated by the lingering radiation from 331 nuclear bomb tests that were carried out during the 1950s and '60s. After several killings are carried out in memorably grisly fashion, it's left to the survivors to outsmart their disfigured tormentors, who are blessed with horrendous make-up (especially Robert Joy as freak leader "Lizard") but never quite as unsettling as the original film's horror icon, ...