Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Written by Alexandre Aja & Gregory Levasseur
Directed by Alexandre Aja

Big Bob Carter...Ted Levine
Bobby Carter...Dan Byrd
Brenda Carter...Emilie de Ravin
Doug Bukowski...Aaron Stanford

Oh, wait...wrong movie.  Let's try this one:

The story is familiar to most every veteran of the horror genre:  the vacationing Carter family (boasting three generations of blood) have a breakdown in the unforgiving New Mexico desert.  What should have been just another speed bump in the road turns deadly when they learn that not only do the hills have eyes, but they have teeth too.  The entire Carter Clan is terrorized, brutalized, and yes, even cannibalized over the course of two days by a rival family, this one made up of mutant miners and their killer kin.

Wes Craven's original is widely considered a classic, and for good reason.  The twisted tale of the civilized versus the uncivilized--or, more importantly, the civilized losing their civility--was a shocking examination of how far one would go to survive, and how much further one would go to protect those that he loves.  And although it had its problems (I'm not such a devotee that I can't admit that), they were easy to look past when all was said and done.

As always, a remake of such a highly-regarded film is a risky proposition.  Admittedly, it has a built-in audience, but it also has its built-in detractors, fans of the original who will hate on the modern version no matter what its merits.  I live somewhere between the two camps:  I believe full-heartedly that there are some films that simply have no need to be remade; however, if and when I watch the remakes, I try to go in with an open mind and an empty slate.  While it's damn near impossible not to compare the remake to the original, you can still enjoy both versions...so long as they're both enjoyable.

The Busey that nobody talks about...
In my opinion, 2006's The Hills Have Eyes got it right.  Almost ridiculously right, actually.  While remaining true to the original plot and director's vision, they also gave us a more in-depth story, more kooky killers than you can shake a stick at, and more relentless action than the original.  Sure, much of the freshness of the original is gone, and like most modern films it goes for shock rather than suspense--but sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.  If I want a Mounds bar, I'll sit down with Craven's version.  If I want an Almond Joy, I'll pop in Aja's.

Or vice versa.  I'll be honest.  I kind of got lost about halfway through that analogy.

Anyway, I think that Aja's maniac sensibilities successfully translated this classic flick to the big screen for a modern audience.

What say you?

Rated R
107 Minutes
United States

"Mmm, baby fat.  Bat fat and juicy."


  1. Actually, this is one of the few occasions when I preferred the remake over the original. I found the new "Hills" much scarier, and more disturbing. The mutant makeup in particular was much more effective -- just seeing those guys gave me more of a jolt than the violence.

  2. I think I prefer the remake over the original as well (doubly so for their sequels), though the new one could have used some Michael Berryman.

    Then again, what couldn't?

    - Aaron

  3. Agreed with all - the new one hammered the point home - quite literally in places - by being more entertaining and more coherent - I felt like the characters in Aja's remake deserved some measure of revenge and/or sympathy, whereas Craven's characters just came across like smelly hippies. Aja also throws in some awesome visual and audio/music cues that slickly highlight the cynicism of the whole scenario.

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  5. I agree with your review and the comments made by others about the movie. I am not a remake hater. I try to judge every movie by itself, but it can be hard at times. In this case, I actually saw the remake before I saw the original. I liked the remake so much I had to see the original. It was interesting to see how the remake expanded on the original. There is nothing wrong with the original, but I also liked the remake more. Great review.


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