The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)
Written by Wes Craven & Jonathon Craven
Directed by Martin Weisz
A few years have passed since the population of the Carter Clan was cut in half by the mysterious mutant miner madmen in the original remake (how's that for an oxymoron?) of The Hills Have Eyes. In that time, the military have moved in and reclaimed the land for reasons unknown.
A rookie group from the National Guard have been called in to this particular patch of desert (now called Sector 16) to assist the soldiers and scientists on duty there. But when the newbies show up, the base is deserted, and there's no sign of life anywhere.
Except, of course, for the mysterious mutant miner madmen that call the hills home. They're looking for men to kill, and women to breed with. Fortunately for them, this is a co-ed squadron of soldiers.
I'm not ashamed to say that I was a fan of the previous entry. Remake or not, it was a sick and slick, fucked-up good time. That being said, a sequel to a remake (not, by the way, in any way a remake of the original sequel) is a tricky thing. Even if you struck gold the first time around, there are a lot of pitfalls waiting for you here. You want something fresh. You don't just want to rehash the same thing all over again. So what do you do?
Apparantly, you call in the big guns. In this case, quite literally.
The tone of this film is drastically different than its predecessor, and in fact hardly seems related at all. I can understand that the protagonists are of a whole different ilk here--previously they were just family folk, and here they are trained soliders. Their characters are not nearly as well defined, as they have sacrificed much of their individuality to enter the soldiering life. It's a bit of a machismo, group-mind effect, which rather prevents you from getting too close to these people. I think it would have helped a lot if there had been a civilian or two amongst them--maybe Bobby Carter returning from the first film, acting as a hired desert guide.
Speaking of which, can anyboy explain to me how a civilian family on vacation seemed better prepared to deal with these killers than a group of soldiers? Do you remember the booby traps that Bobby set up at the end of the last film? Seems to me that he had the military training, not these camo-clad privates.
If the nature of the protagonists was the only thing that had changed, I could have dealt with that more easily. But the antagonists have changed dramatically too. Previously, you got the feeling that they were not all that bright, but they had years and years of in-the-field survivalist training. Post-apocalyptic idiot savants.
This time around, the mutants are more organized, more intelligent, and better at combat than the military they're fighting. They even wear fatigues, and appear to have super-strength! This would seem more at home in a zombie or vampire movie--the living soldiers versus the undead soldiers--but just comes across as displaced here. What's odd to me is that the script was written, at least in part, by Wes Craven! It's hard to believe that this is how he wanted his characters to end up.
Plenty of action, plenty of gore, but with only shallow attempts at characterization and a desperate need to out-do the previous entries, this is just an overblown, over-the-top disappointment that could have been/should have been so much better.
But you know what really could have saved it?