The Hills Have Eyes

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In an isolated stretch of desert in New Mexico, the United States once performed tests of nuclear weapons, even though the area was populated. The government issued warnings and pleased with locals in the area to evacuate and most did indeed leave. But some refused to leave their homes and even as the nuclear bombs went off, they stayed put. Of course, the radiation caused immense damage to those who stayed, mutating their genetic makeup in the process. The survivors remained hidden in caves and out of sight, so well in fact that the area was called lifeless for over four decades. But there are still people in those hills and over time, incestuous relations have combined with altered genetics to cause hideous mutations in the descendants. The group preys upon travelers who somehow wind up in the middle of nowhere, within reach of this monstrous family of freaks. When the Carter family loads up in their camper and ventures across the Southwest, they have no idea the sheer terror that awaits them, thanks to one wrong turn. One of the dogs with the family is the first to meet doom at the hands of the hill people, but soon a baby girl is taken from the family’s hands. Now a rescue is attempted, but in unknown terrain and against unknown captors, can anyone from the Carter clan survive?

I do love movies about vicious, cannibalistic inbred hill people, but sadly, these wonderful folks don’t have many feature films. So while I felt a remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes was unnecessary, I did have the desire to check it out. I’ve given up on boycotting these horror remakes, as they’re so common now and I just hope for tons of blood, gore, and naked breasts. This is a loose remake, so the story is different and to me, that’s good, as I like fresh ideas. I was a little disappointed in The Hills Have Eyes, as there isn’t much time spent on development of the victims, nor the predators involved. I either want someone to survive, someone to slaughter everyone, or I just want a total overload on gore. The film just follows a rail and goes through the motions, cheap scares and jump scenes abound. No logic is present, but I can overlook that in films of this kind, since intelligence from the characters would lessen the bloodshed. As far as the blood, the movie has a good deal of violence and gore, but even in this unrated version, not as much as I would like. More than you usually see in this Hollywood horror efforts, but still, not enough to compensate for the script woes. I wanted to like this movie and I expected a disaster, so the result falls somewhere in the middle. But with so little even decent horror out there these days, I still have to give The Hills Have Eyes a rental recommendation.

Video: How does it look?

The Hills Have Eyes is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a new release from Fox, so of course, the presentation is sharp and quite impressive. The movie was made on a not so large budget, so I had some concerns, but the image here is top notch throughout. The print looks great, with no marks, nicks, or other defects, including grain, which is minimal at worst. So even in the darker scenes, which are quite frequent, the detail level remains high and the visuals never have a soft texture. The colors look bright when needed, such as the greens in the forests, while black levels are razor sharp and as well balanced as we could demand. In other words, another fantastic visual presentation from Fox, so kudos to them on this one.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio is no slouch here either, as the included Dolby Digital 5.1 hits some great moments and adds a lot to the film’s tense atmosphere. This is not a balls-to-the-wall kind of soundtrack, but it has ample surround presence and is a well crafted track. The cheap scares are enhanced thanks to well timed audio peaks, so you’ll jump a little more than usual, which of course, makes the movie more fun to watch. There are also some good subtle touches, such as twigs snapping and general “out in the forest” type atmosphere, which again, adds to the experience, since you feel like you’re out in the woods also. The music has plenty of life too, thanks to the surrounds, while dialogue never runs into any troubles either. This disc also includes a Spanish language track, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The first commentary session is a loaded one, with director Alexandre Aja, art director Gregory Lavasseur, and producer Marianna Maddalena. This is a fairly technical look into the production, with a lot of narration and probably isn’t of much interest to many people. The track is passable, but has no real great moments worth listening for. A second track features producers Wes Craven and Peter Locke, which is less technical, but is by no means a dull affair. I was interested to hear Craven’s thoughts on the remake, but because he was involved in the production, I doubt he was totally candid here. This disc also includes two behind the scenes featurette, music video from The Finalist, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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