The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Critic Consensus: Faster paced for today's audiences, this Hills remake ratchets up the gore for the hardcore horror fans, but will turn away casual audiences.
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Critic Reviews for The Hills Have Eyes
It's just nasty.
... Aja and his gorehound ilk are making movies that simply wallow in state-of-the-art displays of torture, sadism and sexual humiliation.
... a brilliantly reimagined version of Wes Craven's 1977 micro-budget horror classic ...
When its makers, director Alexandre Aja and his co-writer Gregory Levasseur, apply the fresh gloss to the old grit, they remember to apply the thinnest layer possible without skimping on the roughhouse humor.
Audience Reviews for The Hills Have Eyes
I can't see any good reason to remake a bad movie changing the nature of the depraved villains but keeping all of those lame faults found in the original movie - especially characters who are irritatingly stupid and the only smart one being the dog.
I don't remember the original "The Hills Have Eyes". I saw the movie, at least a couple of times, when I was younger, but it failed to leave a lasting impression on me. I think I even owned the VHS version at some point. I don't remember it being a bad movie, boring perhaps. I seem to remember it being just another reason to consider Wes Craven criminally overrated. Maybe I'll revisit the original at some point. Until then, when I'm in the mood to watch a Horror movie, you probably won't hear me say, "You know what I'm in the mood for? I'd really like to watch the 1970's version of 'The Hills Have Eyes' directed by Wes Craven." It probably won't happen anytime soon. The remake on the other hand, is a truly disturbing slab of cinema. It was unleashed at a time when remaking Horror movies was routine. Beginning with "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", filmmakers that were unable to capture the grisly atmosphere that made the originals terrifying, would instead, amplify the violence and gore. In most cases, while entertaining in their own way, the efforts fell significantly short of the originals. I don't think that's the case with "The Hills Have Eyes". The 2006 version, succeeded in becoming an excruciating spectacle. Although exaggerated at times, the deformed "hill people" are a lurid visual. As foul as the antagonists are visually, the most distressing elements of the two hour journey is the sordid behavior on display. Alexandre Aja's re-imagining runs a gauntlet of malevolent moments. The viewer is exposed to mutilation, suicide, kidnapping, cannibalism, and at it's worst, delves into rape and sexual humiliation. I'd venture to guess that even the most desensitized members of the audience would find something in the film to cringe at. It's difficult to say, whether I'd be still consider this film successful if the shock value wore off, but I imagine that's irrelevant. The point of a Horror movie is to make you uncomfortable. "The Hills Have Eyes" succeeds.
In terms of production values, budget, and effects, this is definitely a suprerior film to Wes Craven's original. In terms of story and overall quality, well, that's purely dependent on personal opinion. Once again, the plot is that of a family on vacation whose vehicle breaks down in the desert. They are stranded at an abandoned nuclear test site popualted by some mutants whoe sole purpose is to kill and cause mayhem, and it becomes a family versus family fight ot the death for survival. With this film, they at least spell out the implied backstory for the mutants, and, while it's okay, they still don't have any real motivation. I could let that slide if the film had slightly more of a point and weren't gruesome basically for the sake of it. The original had violence and terror, but it was also more suspenseful. Yes, this film is creepy, and there's some tense moments, but the focus is more on the violence and gore. The effects are far better this time, and there's plenty of them, but I think things may have gone slightly overboard. The acting this tiem around is also slightly improved, but the chasracters still really seem unlikeable. Aaron Stanford is pretty decent though. The film tries to have some subtext by doing a Straw Dogs sort of thing with his character, and, it's okay. However, he's no Hoffman, and Aja is no Peckinpah. I shouldn't like this movie. It's disgusting, vile, and there's not much in the way of redeeming qualities. However, it manages to be slick and polished, yet still incredibly gritty and raw. The original gets a pass for its limitations, but this one should know better, and could have done without so many cliches. Plus, it's intense, but there's not much impact to it, beyond a visceral level. I wasn't bored though, even if, like the original, there's pacing issues (slow start, drawn out conclusion, dynamite middle). The film definitely has style, though, and admittedly we do need this sort of thing once in a while, if only to balance out the universe. Obviously I'm conflicted here, because it does some things better than Craven's, yet it fails to achieve the same sort of impact and misses the point when it comes to putting the horror in "horror film". Still, this is shockingly far better than it had any right to be. B-.
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