Film Reviews

The Hills Have Eyes II Martin Weisz

Rating - 0/10

Horror is a tough genre. You've got last year's superb The Descent that can't be possibly be as good as you may think (but is, I promise), and Hostel II, an increasingly unfavourable slasher flick that, to no one's surprise, has lessened from its rather favorable rating (sorry, Roth, better luck next time?). It's a dog-eat-dog world, made only more vicious by the ever-shrinking imagination of the genre's target audience; suddenly, kids are no longer frightened by what they can't see and are spurred only by the gore they can.

It's all the more surprising then that a horror film can remain consistent. This doesn't necessarily mean it's consistently good, but remains steadfast in its first impression; last year's The Hills Have Eyes had this much going for it, but otherwise it was a well-acted, testy piece of adrenaline fueled mediocrity riddled with smart idiots (blowing up our only means of shelter is okay if its a clever design to capture and kill a mutant!). But that's pretty much Alexandre Aja's calling card, decking out his films in stark colors, contrasts and cheap scares with more style over substance, even if he believes he's doing otherwise. Look no further than the genre-confused High Tension that mistook a glaring plot hole for depth. At least it was fun.

But Hills' success (and infuriatingly implausible ending) left the studios salivating for a sequel, one that was already steeped in bad omens (its predecessors, harking back to Wes Craven's work, were testaments on how not to do sequels; have we not learned from the American remake of The Ring II?). And like every ill-fated horror sequel before it, The Hills Have Eyes II did nothing to skew convention, again taking the premise and applying it to a large group of individuals instead of a lone family (Jeepers Creepers =/= Jeepers Creepers II). It's teaser, then, a creepy, uninformative little beacon of hope, led us to believe that maybe Martin Weisz's debut might find itself a more inspired final product.

And as the theatrical trailer promised, it's not. It's safe to say that maybe it never would be, and that maybe no one involved ever thought so. So hackneyed, insipid and incoherently bad, The Hills Have Eyes II is a testament not only to a horrible horror flick, but also to movie history as a whole. It takes a lot to generate this much hate, but co-writer Wes Craven (!!!) has succeeded in cheapening a whole genre he helped invigorate. Aided by uncharismatic no-names, Weisz and Craven have put to screen some of the dumbest people to ever bloody up a dirt trail. That they are meant to represent members of the U.S. military further puts to light how much time was put into writing their characters (as much time that went in writing the plot: A New Mexico desert known as Sector 16 has become a testing site for the U.S. military, and a group of National Guard trainees are sent in to deliver supplies. Ta-da!)

But really, we come for the gore and stay for the gore, right, Weisz? There's an arm slicing that is so painfully CGI I actually guffawed, and a rape scene that is so unexpected and vile that the audience I sat with bust out laughing before they fell speechless (how is that for torture porn?). There's even a death by leather wallet if you're looking for a little differentiation. The mutants, who were so nightmarish and mangled before look like prosthetic leftovers from a bad Twilight Zone episode. It's all cheap, left for the purely unimaginative and given to those that are expected to not care to realize what they are truly missing; character pieces like May, given its horror elements out of a psychopath's fragmented mind, are passed up yearly for this horror trash.

That's a lot just to say that Hills II is one of the most degrading pieces of film I have ever seen, but it had to be done. Horror is a dying genre, no matter how many films are shelled out yearly. Even one of the year's most successful and, dare I say it, good thrillers, Disturbia worked for its depth and character development than the uninspired horror elements that brought in the crowds. Maybe it's already dead and no one notices because this is all they're expecting. If that's the case, then rest in piece, Horror.

We hardly knew ye.