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The Hills Have Eyes (R)

Release Date: March 10th, 2006 by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The Cast: Aaron Stanford, Kathleen Quinlan, Vinessa Shaw, Emilie De Ravin, Dan Byrd, Tom Bower, Billy Drago, Robert Joy, Ted Levine.
Directed by Alexandre Aja.

BASIC PREMISE: When a family gets stranded in the desert with their trailer, mutant cannibals terrorize them.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: The Hills Have Eyes surpasses the original 1977 Wes Craven film both in terms of blood’n‘guts as well as its plot. Very little happens within the first thirty minutes as the Carter family’s trailer breaks down in the middle of the desert on their way to California. Even though this first act should sound quite familiar for horror fans, there’s no way to prepare for the extremely horrifying second act. Before the violence begins, you meet Bob (Levin) and his wife Ethel (Quinlan) along with their three grown-up children, a son-in-law, an infant and two dogs. Of course, they lose all radio contact with civilization once they get stranded. What makes the second act work so well is that you feel like Carters are a real, tight-knit family in the first act. Every actor gives a decent performance without standing out. The screenplay by Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur doesn’t have a single victim who falls prey to their own stupidity—they all have brains, which is quite refreshing to know. Also, the mutant cannibals that gradually kill them off actually have an interesting history behind them that explains a lot about how they became mutated. It's easy to feel sorry for them. Thanks to the intricate detail of their make-up design, each mutant can be easily distinguished from the other—they even have names. Fortunately, The Hills Have Eyes has relentless blood’n‘guts, some of which will make even a true horror fan feel a bit queasy. But Aja doesn’t rely just on shock value: there’s also a great musical score that builds up a lot of tension and also allows for some deceptive scares. On top of that, who would have thought that there could be so many scares in broad daylight? The plot enters guilty pleasure territory when the tables turn and the remaining victims hunt down the cannibals. This is when The Hills Have Eyes becomes truly suspenseful, surprising and even funny, but without sacrificing its strong R-rating.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.


IN A NUTSHELL: Bloody-great! One of the scariest remakes in years! Relentlessly horrifying and unnerving! It'll send chills down your spine! Even true horror fans will have nightmares for days!

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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