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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 William Goss

"Redefining The Nuclear Family"
4 stars

A family taking a summer road trip falls prey to mutated maniacs in the long-awaited sequel to 'Johnson Family Vacat—' I mean, the remake of Wes Craven’s horror classic 'The Hills Have Eyes,' a loyal adaptation that adjusts the dread and carnage suitably for nearly three decades of genre inflation, but contributes little else. It may be lean, and it may be mean, but one could use more meat on these bones, a sentiment I’m sure the locals would have no trouble agreeing with.

As with the original, the story concerns the Carter clan as they travel across the New Mexico desert en route to California. Misleading directions from a shifty gas attendant result in a rather convenient accident, right in the middle of a former radioactive fallout zone where cell phones are useless and inbred cannibals (are there any other kind?) lurk in the surrounding terrain. After a deliberately slow build-up, complete with a fair share of false scares, a big bang sets off a chaotic trailer centerpiece, a harrowing ambush on the family that results in a shift from mere victimization to aggressive survival.

To his credit, director Alexandre Aja (High Tension) does assemble a rather robust cast for such genre fare. “Big Bob” Carter (Ted Levine), and his wife, Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan), feel compelled to tow their extended family along for their silver anniversary, including their son, two daughters, and son-in-law Doug (Aaron Stanford). Levine’s cocky Republican conflicts with Stanford’s passive Democrat, until misfortune befalls them, when Doug suddenly becomes a proactive antagonist driven by personal retaliation, an impressive yet credible conversion.

Events unfold almost exactly as they did in the 1977 version, with no drastic changes made. In fact, the admirably accuracy ends up dissolving the film’s purpose, giving it little to do but make the proceedings louder and bloodier to please the modern moviegoer. However, on that level, The Hills Have Eyes achieves its objective. For a horror film, the effect turns out to be more visceral than frightening, and for a remake, the result is more worthy than most. Aja maintains the sheer anxiety and insanity of what takes place, but instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to create his own unique and inspired version, he simply settles for doing a sufficient duplication. As thrilling as situations get, nothing quite matches the immediate disorientation and distress that results from the trailer attack sequence, the sole scene that establishes the bleak and brutal atmosphere that carries the rest of the film.

Just because such a story is so straight-forward doesn’t require it to be insulting in the intelligence department. Nearly all of the subtext buried in the original Hills is equally at home here. A sense of perpetual patriotism is shoved down/through our throats, between the constant flag-waving of the Carters to a warbling rendition of the national anthem by one of the villains. What would appear to be the sole radio station available in the wasteland happens to be an oldies format, the music of which reflects the idyllic fifties and turbulent sixties, a prime time for both the parents and the U.S. Department of Energy. The mutants are practically attacking one generation as a result of their ancestors’ actions. With the filmmakers being French, it does lend an outsider’s perspective to a distinctly American horror story.

However, it becomes a bit difficult to read into a film that insists on frequent head trauma on both sides of the screen. There is something admirable, something refreshing about such violence being as ungratuitous and uncompromising as what is on display here (although the film had reportedly been trimmed down from an NC-17 rating, there are few scenes that seem to lend themselves to further execution). Aja seems set on doing one thing and doing it well, so perhaps it would be wise to stand back and watch him swing away. Just mind your head.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 03/21/06 17:48:07
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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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