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The Hills Have Eyes II

Rather than turning a videogame into a film, Hills Have Eyes 2 feels more like a movie that should have just been made as a shoot-'em-up game.


The National Guard is called out for a routine desert exercise in Yuma Flats, where nuclear experiments once took place. The team of young and often naïve recruits set out in the heat, and they all have nicknames, such as Crank (Jacob Vargas), Stump (Ben Crowley), Spitter (Eric Edelstein), Mickey (Reshad Strik)—and the resident hunk, Napoleon (Michael McMillian). There are some chick soldiers, too, including Amber (Jessica Stroup) and Missy (Daniella Alonso). When they run into traps among the rocks and rattlesnakes, they find the dregs of humanity who have been left there after the nuclear experiments. The mutant family living in the buildings left standing from the testing, as well as the caves under the ground, also have their own share of nicknames: Hades (Michael Bailey Smith), Stabber (Tyrell Kemlo), Letch (Jason Oettle), Grabber (Gaspar Szabo) and Chameleon (Derek Mears). Meanwhile, roughshod Sgt. Millstone (Flex Alexander) leads the battle against them.


Sometimes the actors in these horror flicks are only judged by how well they scream and die—and a few of these soldiers have some good lungs. The problem is the vain attempts the film makes in trying to create characters the audience care about because, frankly, we don't, no matter how many glimpses of life at home or pictures saved on the cell phone. The first victim in the beginning seems a sympathetic captive but is subjected to a brutal rape and then a quick and graphic decapitation which is highly unnecessary. The monster family is a bit more evil, and even somewhat familiar (Michael Bailey Smith was in last year's The Hills Have Eyes). Images of dead soldiers, even though portrayed in an unrealistic way, may seem too real with the recent news of the day, and the family-in-peril anxiety of the first classic is lost in this sequel.


Horror guru Wes Craven always said he hated the 1985 sequel he did to his 1977 classic, which continued on with the Carter family and their mutant woes, so this time—co-writing with his son, Jonathan Craven—he went a different way. Unfortunately, it still doesn't work as well. Hills Have Eyes 2 lacks the creativity French director Alexandre Aja instilled in last year's scare fest, which truly highlighted how the 1950s nuclear testing in the desert could have created these mutant people. This time, we have director Martin Weisz, who is known more for his music videos. Maybe that's why the scenes come across too quick, too choppy and too in your face. The requisite amount of gore is going to keep some sickos in the audience happy, but it's not the creative stuff we've seen before from this team.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.