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Two powerful jabs got me in a tizzy about kicking it with THE HILLS HAVE EYES remake. 1- I never cared much for Wes Cravenâ€™s original. I found it dated, annoying and â€śtrailer attack bitâ€ť aside, fairly un-scary. So, personally, I welcomed a remake of it with zipped down zipper. 2- French Director Alexandre Ajaâ€™s debut Haute Tension severely kicked my ass to genre heaven and was my fav fear flick of 2004. I couldnâ€™t wait to see his follow-up! So did my trek through these Hills live up to my hopes, desires and gore drench wet dreams? Mostly yes and a pinch of no. Lets dissect.
How refreshing was it to see a remake that actually improved on its forefather (for me anyways, I canâ€™t speak for you guys) starting with the background story that was given to the baddies. As opposed to the original, the Hills clan here was tagged with a reason/motivation as to why they were the way they were and did the things they did. I so grooved to the opening credits reel that explained their back-story by using real life stills of mutated folks (from the Chernobyl incident) hence lending credibility to what was to follow. All was golden with the "good guys" too with better characterization and acting than in the original. In consequence the stakes of the action was jacked up since I felt like I was dealing with real people. Furthermore, the new locations at play so rocked my palace! That â€śnuclear testingâ€ť village with its creepy mannequins looming about added to the chill factor of the proceedings and gave me a welcome break from seeing sand and an RV trailer. I dug it the most! The sugar on top was Aja's steadfast directing style which served up gritty yet polished visuals that communicated the action with maximum impact.
With that axed out of the way the major improvements over the original for my sorry ass were definitely the scares and the gory goods. As per Ajaâ€™s last plasma-drenched opus Haute Tension, this evil puppy was suspense filled, to the point of chewing oneâ€™s ear in anticipation as to what will happen next. The "trailer attack bit" in this version was a visceral tour de force of strain, mayhem, uncomfortable moments and cruelty. Good news was; the flick was filled with those type of nail biting scenes right down to the end. Talk about getting a vicious cinematic beating and loving every damn second of it! The graphic and abundant gore in this R-Rated house ruined me as well. The opening, â€śpickaxe fun killsâ€ť alone shouldâ€™ve gotten this film an N-17 and the rest of the filmâ€™s nasty candy brought it all to the next level. Hey, Iâ€™m not complaining! Keep em coming as grisly as this oneâ€¦PLEASE! The final potent fear injection out of this genre syringe was the â€śhappy go killâ€ť mutants themselves. To me, the great Michael Berryman aside, the villains in the original looked and acted like like a bunch of bums wearing Mommyâ€™s stuff. The clan here were imposing, utterly psychotic and deformed monsters. I loved the realistic makeup jobs (courtesy of the fine folks at KNB), where tagged with the fine performances, they created evil mofos that frightened me more than any creditor Iâ€™ve ever encountered.
On the stale side of the pickaxe, the movieâ€™s pacing was its worst flaw. The opening and the last block couldâ€™ve been tightened up as they lost some of their oomph due to their lagging pace. The characters also annoyed me a tad. Real people or not, the good guys constantly bickered and whined like bitches, making it hard for me to FULLY care about them, specially early on. It didnâ€™t help matters either, that most of my fav characters died first; leaving me with the ones that was so-so on. And why the hell couldnâ€™t anybody shoot a gun properly? I saw lots of bad aiming to serve the plot here and that kinda pissed me off. The same could be said about some of the heroes' reactions to what was going down. At times, they weren't on the ball from my standpoint as some didnâ€™t â€ślose itâ€ť enough when their loved ones died while at other times they processed the happenings in trivial ways (All about the car graveyard scene and how "he" perceived it...come on dude, work with me man!)
But for all of its flaws, THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2006 made up for them through its big bulldog balls. This was the real deal, a horror film that rarely held back and that aimed to crush our larynx with its overt violence and thick suspense. I donâ€™t know about you psychos-a-go-go, but a film of this ilk should be celebrated hardcore! So whip out the Champaign and the hookersâ€¦and lets party till the Hills burn up! KILLLLLL!