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Overall Rating

Awesome: 24.51%
Worth A Look: 25.49%
Pretty Bad: 15.69%
Total Crap: 3.92%

8 reviews, 54 user ratings

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Hills Have Eyes, The (2006)
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by EricDSnider

"Well, of course they have eyes. They're alive with the sound of music, too."
3 stars

Most remakes are unnecessary, but "The Hills Have Eyes" seems especially so. The plot remains virtually unchanged. The only update is that the characters have non-functioning cell phones now. If Wes Craven wants a whole new generation to appreciate his 1977 gorefest, why not just re-release it? It's not like he's got any big names in the remake to bring crowds in.

Craven is a producer on the remake, with Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur adapting the screenplay and Aja directing. This is the same duo behind last year's "High Tension," the French horror flick that was half-decent until its "twist" ending that didn't make any sense.

No twists in "The Hills Have Eyes," don't worry. Even without having seen the original, you can get a strong sense for who will live and who will die, and when the deaths will occur.

The all-American Carter family is traveling with an Airstream trailer through the New Mexico desert on the way to California when a shifty redneck gas station attendant (Tom Bower) -- standard in these films -- leads them off the beaten path and into the clutches of a coven of deformed hillbillies. These people are the result of 1940s and '50s nuclear testing, and for some reason, they're big fans of torturing, killing and even eating regular folk like the Carters.

What Aja does well -- maybe too well, for reasons I'll explain in a moment -- is make us feel some affinity for the characters. Bob (Ted Levine) and Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan) are a likable middle-aged couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Their teenage son Bobby (Dan Byrd) seems normal enough, their daughter Brenda (Emilie de Ravin) is beautiful and kindly, and their other daughter Lynne (Vinessa Shaw) has recently married a decent man named Doug (Aaron Stanford). Lynne and Doug have a baby daughter. Heck, the Carters even have two fine-looking German shepherds, Beauty and Beast, along for the trip.

The interaction among the characters -- Bob and his son-in-law's philosophical differences, Bobby and Brenda's hassling of one another, Ethel's endearing matronly cluelessness ("What's 'chronic'?") -- feels realistic. Which makes it all the more upsetting when they are ambushed out in the desert and some of them start dying.

The mutants are relentless in their pursuits, operating with savage, well-organized brutality against the family. The special-effects makeup renders them ghastly (but believable!) in their appearance. Just waking up to find one of them leering over you would be terrifying enough. Imagine if he then tried to rape you and steal your baby.

The appeal of these movies is that they depress you with a feeling of horror and loss, only to revive you with a cathartic finale in which the evil-doers are punished and the embattled heroes emerge victorious. The reason some of these movies fail ("The Devil's Rejects" comes to mind) is that they emphasize the lows and omit the highs. They're all terror with no relief.

"The Hills Have Eyes" makes its low points devastating. We feel true grief for the dead characters and the anguish of the survivors. But the revenge -- this is really a revenge picture, after all -- isn't sweet enough, in my opinion. Yeah, those murdering monsters from the hills get what's coming to them, but not in ways that are sufficiently painful or violent enough to be satisfying.

One of the reasons people like intense, blood-soaked thrillers such as this one is that they often demonstrate creativity in the way they devise their scenarios or dispatch their victims. (The "Final Destination" series makes that its focal point.) Others keep the deaths themselves fairly basic but enliven the action with snappy dialogue or darkly comic situations (or, let's be honest, with gratuitous nudity). "The Hills Have Eyes" has none of that (or of that). It has a no-nonsense agenda: Terrorize the family, kill some of them, and let the survivors get their revenge. But at some point, it stops being fun and just becomes grueling.

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originally posted: 03/10/06 10:00:44
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Horror Remakes: For more in the Horror Remakes series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell harsh but alot better than the original 4 stars
4/01/16 Aj wales This is better than the original. 4 stars
1/04/14 Marty Pretty solid horror movie with some gross-out moments and good acting/action. 4 stars
8/12/11 jiropan best brutal and intense movie 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles EXCELLENT 5 stars
9/07/10 art never saw the original!,so this verison is GET"s a "THUMb's up'' from your's truly! 4 stars
3/07/10 randy todger awesome 5 stars
12/31/09 art AN EXCELLENT HORROR FILM!,and this was a remake?,you could knock me with a feather! 1 4 stars
10/20/08 Shaun Wallner Scary Film! 5 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner Bloody Awesome!!! 5 stars
7/12/08 John Millheim Creepy, good horror, the dudes are gross looking in the hills 5 stars
6/28/08 Danny See the original instead. Trust me on this one. 1 stars
12/09/07 Vincent sick horror movie 5 stars
7/21/07 al smith fucking amazing nuff said 5 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap Very disturbing, but it's no "Last House on the Left" 3 stars
3/01/07 Beau So disgusting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i wouldnt see it again but not too bad horror 3 stars
2/16/07 Axel Leos boring and why make remakes, they only ruin the original movie 2 stars
12/30/06 Pavid Smorpal33ni bad film. 1 stars
11/03/06 David Pollastrini good gore. 4 stars
10/23/06 WTF Ugh, Man! What the Fuck?! This is Ultra-Disturbing. And the gore. I could not eat a chip. 4 stars
10/09/06 Booksworm Aww, I was hoping you'd like it.That way I could say it was crap. 1 stars
10/01/06 Soraya ROBERT JOY was incredible as LIZARD! What a great movie and well acted too... 5 stars
8/29/06 Nick A lot of gore! And good emotions! Nice Job Wes! 4 stars
8/12/06 Indrid Cold Does a great job bringing the pain and otherwise defying expectations. 4 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Not enough cannibalism,the head psycho resembledRubberJohnny&that dog kept being the hero 1 stars
8/02/06 dan alot like the original but worth watching 4 stars
7/24/06 Samuel I'm not sure it's a sgood as the origional, but it's right up there...damn good remake!! 4 stars
7/11/06 Kyle Technically better than orig., but the main characters are a bit more wooden. 3 stars
6/27/06 Dillon This movie has balls. Props to Aja and his crew. 4 stars
6/25/06 MP Bartley Goes on a bit. Satisfying for the gorehounds but little else. 3 stars
6/24/06 Mike How is this different than Wrong Turn? Wrong turn into desert and attacked by cannibals 3 stars
6/13/06 Tasia I loved this movie...even if it was a little different from the was worth it! 5 stars
6/05/06 misty great 5 stars
5/12/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Like 3 kids & a baby could survive in desert after blowin up their food & water. Yeah! 3 stars
4/30/06 Alex de Fig I'm glad thats over. Entertaining but very unsettling. 3 stars
4/23/06 Dan I liked this... Alexandre Aja is a top director 5 stars
4/18/06 Dave Pretty good, but not a classic horror film at all 4 stars
4/13/06 San Lamar A MUST SEE!!!! AMAZING!!!! 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych Predictable and Reminisent of "Texas Chainsaw" but provides some scares. 3 stars
4/04/06 haney awesome!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/04/06 y2mckay first half drags, last half is gruesome fun (I counted at least four axe-to-head scenes) 3 stars
4/03/06 JRE it's really scary, but disgusting at the same time. if you're squimish, stay away 4 stars
3/30/06 M. Dido Ted Levine is a demigod! Everyone else pales by comparison! 3 stars
3/24/06 jesika umm.. if uve seen texas chain saw/wrong turn- my friend - uve seen this one - ugh! 2 stars
3/24/06 Ole Man Bourbon Pretty shittty really 2 stars
3/23/06 ROY L. CAIN JR. What a horror movie should be. Pass the kayro syrup ! 5 stars
3/22/06 Bryan Locks This film is alot more disturbing than scary.Unless your'e a sick freak, don't waste your $ 2 stars
3/20/06 Dk Not scary enough just ultra bloody 3 stars
3/16/06 bob furgerson Best horror movie I have seen in a long time 5 stars
3/15/06 great surprised at all the bad reviews, i thought it was really good, really disturbing scenes 5 stars
3/14/06 Lester M. Davis What more can you ask of a horror flick. 3 stars
3/14/06 Tyler L Awesome movie, Aja is someone to keep an eye on. 5 stars
3/13/06 Juicy J I puked from this glory!! 5 stars
3/12/06 lee Although intense and brutal, the film runs out of steam. 3 stars
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  10-Mar-2006 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jun-2006



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