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The Hills Have Eyes (Unrated Edition) (2006)

Horror movie directed by Alexandre Aja

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I can see bad horror; everyone has an eye for it.

  • Feb 19, 2011
*1/2 out of ****

It would seem that Alexandre Aja- along with just about anyone else who dares make a horror film in today's world- has a delusion that horror is measured through gore; and entertainment is measured through how sick you get. Horror isn't about sickening violence and consistent gore; it's about art in the form of fright. The remake of "The Hills Have Eyes", which is directed by Aja, is a horror film made to provoke the audience through violence. There's something about it that tells me that it also wants to entertain through the on-screen brutality, but that kind of thing only works with a select group of people. But in reality, "The Hills Have Eyes" is nothing more than a generic horror remake that frankly, just doesn't deserve the gift of existence. It's not scary, it's not engaging and therefore, it's not even fun. We've all seen worse from horror, but do we really need to go there? I know that I have enjoyed violent horror in the past. Just look at "Hellraiser" or the more recent release, "The Devil's Rejects". Now, I enjoyed both of those films quite a bit. "Hellraiser" is a visual, macabre thrill-ride while "Rejects" is a depiction of violence for what it truly is. "The Devil's Rejects" in particular is a near excellent example of how to make a violent horror film and how to let it breathe enough for it to be good. "The Hills Have Eyes" is not good because it aims in all the wrong places; and scores in all the wrong ways. I assume that this film was aimed at teens, but given the violence, what kind of teen is going to actually see or let alone like this movie? The generic ones, that's who. But if it doesn't appeal to teens, then who will it appeal to? Adults? No, I don't think so. Unless the adult has extremely low standards when it comes to life, horror, and film as a whole. There will be those who enjoy this film for the blood-bath that it is. If there's one thing that I somewhat admire about the film, its that it knows what it is. And it also has a few entertaining scenes, but I can't be fooled by style. Since when does horror need to be this gory? That's the point; it doesn't. But Aja doesn't care. Hell, neither did Wes Craven when he made the original film way back when. And I didn't like that film much either; which left a lot to happen in this remake. I expected to like it more, but didn't. I do hope that they end this franchise right now, because it's not going anywhere. And since even a guy as cool as Alexandre Aja can't revive the series, that leaves nothing more to happen. Seriously, just avoid this horror movie. It made me frustrated, and I've seen too many like it in my time. I've seen worse; and I've seen better. And you know what else; I don't really care.

Following the same plot of the original film, this remake is about a family who takes a wrong detour in their car and trailer, and somehow ends up in the middle of nowhere where coincidentally, a lot goes on. While they set up camp and make themselves comfortable for a while, evil things lurk in the dark. It soon becomes clear that the event of them getting stuck in the area was intentional; and someone is stalking them from the hills nearby. If you know the original film, then you know that the "someone" is a family of sadistic mutants. They go on to terrorize, kill, and confront each unhappy camper until nearly everyone's dead, and in the event that you may want to actually watch a movie like this, I will not tell you the final outcome of the whole ordeal. There's not much room for plot aside from "survive the mutants". The whole thing is a bloody ordeal through-and-through; testing our patience as well as our stomaches. If you can sit through this kind of movie without doing so much as squirming in your seat, then you're not really achieving much. You can endure a lesser known movie and feel good about watching it, but when you watch a generic Hollywood flick such as this, there's little payoff and little fun to finishing the grand ride. The plot itself moves like the psychotic mutants that inhabit it; and that's quite fast indeed. But what ruins the film as an experience is the abundance of gore; which comes first instead of coming second to more important things such as characters and story-telling. You don't really need either to make an entertaining horror film, but what you do need is a hook, and "The Hills Have Eyes" doesn't really have one of those either. It's another pointless exploitation of violence; always bloody but never boring or unwatchable. There's just too much done wrong here for me to applaud Aja's direction or "skill"; both of which never seem as noticeable as they did when he made "High Tension". That was a better film; and Aja doesn't deserve to be making films like this. I question whether it was out of passion or out of the desire for money. Either way, Hollywood's making some big bucks out of this mostly boring remake; and that's something I really have a problem with.

To call the acting in this film "bad" would be giving the actors less credit than they deserve; while calling any of it "inspired" would be giving them a little too much credit. Credit is due, and I must give people what they deserve. So that is why every performance in this film is mediocre; not bad, but not good. There's not much to appreciate other than the fact that none of it really sucks, but I would have liked it if Aja cared about the people getting killed. It's kind of strange how he doesn't even care about his mutants. You will probably know a lot of the cast, so I feel no need to name all of them. I will, however, name one individual. Michael Bailey Smith, who plays the role of Pluto this time around, happens to be that one. Michael Berryman played that role the first time; and he did decently enough. He would have done better if his character would have been given more screen-time and hopefully, more characterization, but since they're mutants, I guess it's OK to just let them be dust in the wind for the time being. Smith is not Berryman; I didn't even give a damn about his Pluto character this time around. Berryman has a charm to him that I just can't resist; while Smith has none of the like. What a shame; casting such a talented cast in a film lacking supreme talent. It feels kind of worthless in the end, to tell you the truth.

"The Hills Have Eyes" is a horror film, a drama, and an action film all rolled up into one big, boastful film; although the problem here is that it fails at being any of those three things. As a horror film, the movie is never scary. As a drama; it fails because it's never sad and it's never trying too hard to be. And as an action movie...well, it works. But it's still noisy, violent, and generic. But aren't most action movies like that nowadays? Yeah, I think so. I always thought that Alexandre Aja had skill; and he directs this film with passion and the intent to please fans of horror. His film will do the job for some, while for others, it will induce some snoring. I do admit that it's kind of hard to fall asleep in a film like this; especially when its waving knifes, guns, and blood in your face every second of the ride. But really, there's just enough good to be found here for the film to actually keep me engaged. It's bland; really bland. And it's indulgent only to horror fans. I know that they are the people who will fall for this crap, but that just further proves my claim that they know nothing about true horror. I like good horror films, but this is not one of them. It's stylish, brutal, and tiresome to the max. It's energetic for sure; but that just makes it even more generic and familiar than it already is. I know Aja thinks he's being unique here, but aside from some good cinematography, his film isn't as pretty and pleasing as it should be. I will not call this torture porn; it was not made for pleasure. It was made to sicken, and that's part of why I dislike it. Horror should not be made to sicken through violence. It can disturb, but there should be some art involved. There is not a trace of art to be found in "The Hills Have Eyes". It's meant to be entertainment, and it even fails at that. What a big freaking pity.

Since when do horror films have explosions? Since when are they more like action films than horror films? I don't get how an Alexandre Aja-directed remake of Craven's "The Hills Have Eyes" can fail, but here we are, looking at a nigh pathetic finished project. This isn't a horrible or unwatchable film all-in-all, but I don't admire it in the slightest. At least "High Tension" was closer to "sick" than this gory gun-show of a movie. The film is all bark and no bite, and therefore it never quite delivers on the scares or the tension that it promises. I know people who enjoy it, and I will not do so much as spoil their fun. That would be wrong. And somehow, I know why they like the film. It has energy, and it has style. That's great. That's fantastic. But when a film this brutal can be this boring, then you have a problem. I suppose the fans of the film will be cheering because Aja allows his film to explode. I suppose that if the film exploded and caught on fire, the whole audience would applaud. But me, I'd just be sitting there in the dark; waiting for the darn thing to end. Long story short; Aja takes a lot of the fun out of this potentially entertaining film. It should be thrilling and it should also be good, but since half of the world thinks gore and predictability are what makes horror movies scary, then I guess we've got to indulge their general interest. Aja seems to think so. And if he thinks he's being sneaky by making this film, then he's very, very wrong. He thinks he has made an ugly, sick movie. He has not made one of those. He has made a film that made money and will make even more money due to the lack of intelligent minds out there. I say listen to the smart people; don't bite the hook. If it even has a hook. There are a lot of reasons to enjoy a film like this, and then there are a lot of reasons why you just shouldn't. "The Hills Have Eyes", in spite of its intense brutality, never gets a kill that will stick with me for longer than half an hour. That is why the film is so forgettable, and that's why you should just skip out on the thing as a whole and see something much, much better.

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February 23, 2011
As far as remakes go I thought this one was pretty good
February 25, 2011
Yeah, a lot of people did. But I'm just too darned critical.
More The Hills Have Eyes reviews
review by . November 07, 2008
The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
This is what we loved 'The Hills Have Eyes' for back in the 70's, right? Stupid people doing stupid things, axes getting buried in skulls, and deformities. That's what horror movies are all about, right?     Director Alexandre Aja (High Tension) does incredible justice to this remake of a very fine original Wes Craven flick. Remaining true to the original, Aja nonetheless brings in new FX for the radiation freaks and also brings fresh performances, though I deeply miss Michael …
review by . November 20, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
I don't claim to be an expert about producers, directors, movies, and which remake is better than what remake. I just know I like horror--the new, more realistic kind AND the old cult classic kind--with all the accompanying gore common to this genre.    This movie has enough gore to satisfy even the most hard-core horror addict, but if you're at all queasy, this movie is not for you. But I loved it. It kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time; it was THAT exciting. The mutant, …
review by . July 20, 2006
If it is graphic violence and gore you want then this will be the equivalent to a Wet Dream for you. I've yet to see Craven's original, so I can't really compare this remake to it. Although, from what I've heard this remake is far better. If I had seen the original, I would probably agree. Alexandre Aja, who brought us a little French film called "High Tension" is at the blood and guts genre again. This time he has more people to slaughter and a great team behind him to bring these horrific mutants …
review by . July 13, 2006
There have been a ton of horror remakes in the last few years. From "The Fog" to "House of Wax" to "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," it appears that Hollywood has run dry on original ideas. One of the latest entries into the world of horror revisited is "The Hills Have Eyes." This is one of the better remakes of recent years, but it lacks something that the original had: Cheese. With a bigger budget and relatively established actors, this remake just doesn't quite add up to the original.     You're …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Boasting an upgrade in production values,The Hills Have Eyesshould please new-generation horror fans without offending devotees of Wes Craven'soriginal versionfrom 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 Tensionwith 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, ...
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Director: Alexandre Aja
Genre: Horror
DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
Runtime: 107 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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