Directed by: Alexandre Aja
Premise: A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 film. While on vacation, a suburban family gets stuck in the middle of the desert and becomes prey for a family of cannibals living in the hills.
What Works: Aja is a talented director with an original vision. The editing and cinematography are great and the film introduces some new elements to the story that give the it more weight. The film is well cast, particularly Ted Levine (best known for playing Jame Gumb in The Silence of the Lambs) as the white bread Republican father. The family dynamics are very authentic and the film has a lot of great “jump” moments. Fans of the genre will be pleased that this film uses brutality and nastiness and will not let the audience off the hook with simple, painless violence.
What Doesn’t: Despite having successful scares, The Hills Have Eyes struggles to create an ongoing sense of tension. When it comes to remakes, comparisons to the original film are inevitable and in this case the original is a more successful film because it cut between the suburban family and the feral family much better and managed to characterize both which created greater drama, tension, and menace.
Bottom Line: This version The Hills Have Eyes hits far ahead of the curve compared to most horror films such as the recent film, Hostel. While I would encourage viewers to rent the original picture, this version has been made to appeal to the contemporary audience and they should find it satisfying.
Episode: #88 (March 12, 2006)