A Co-Op Critics Review!
Player 1: One Pumped Ninja
I don’t know whether to classify this as a horror movie or a comedy.
Saying that the movie is just hilarious would be indicative of my insensitivity or desensitization towards depictions of gore, rape, and outright violent acts. That is not the case here. True, I did laugh a lot, but most of it is directed at rather awkward moments that could have been refined into more plausible situatins or at character developments that are too prototypical.
The movie, as you may expect, follows in the same vein as The Devil’s Rejects and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Due to nuclear testing in the American west prior to the Cold War, an entire mining community has been mutated into horrific cannibals. The Carter family, on their way to San Diego, gets some horrible advice from a gas station attendant and soon find themselves in the middle of cannibal territory. Of course, they don’t know this until family members start dying.
There is a decent amount of political edginess that shapes the overall feel of the movie. There is, of course, the anti-nuclear message that shows you what sorts of wonderful, killer freaks you can get if you test nukes on families. Then there’s two still shots of the American flag, one on the family vehicle and one in the room of one of the cannibals. There’s Doug (Aaron Stanford), the weenie liberal who ends up becoming a shotgun-toting badass by the time the movie is over and then there’s Ruby (Laura Ortiz), the nice, pretty freak girl who apparently doesn’t have a taste for human blood. I don’t think there’s a moral to the story, but there’s obviously a lot of recurring themes that suggest that nukes are bad, guns are pretty sweet, and not all mutants want to eat you. Oh, and America rocks.
So where’s the funny? For a movie that is excellently filmed and has a great cast, you would think that they could have made sure not to overlook the predictable. But that’s exactly what happens… a lot. People wander off on their own, throw down their guns instead of finishing off the bad guy, split up, and scream at each other while trying to calm down. Then there’s just some painfully awkward scenes, such as when one freak strokes Brenda’s (Emilie de Ravin) cheek while laughing like Butt-Head and his pal bites the head off a parakeet. Yeah, really screwed up isn’t it? Of course, rape isn’t funny and neither is the idea of cannibals eating your baby. But what IS funny is your friendly German Shepherd going out on its own and savagely devouring the cannibals, even being so nice as to bring back and arm and a walkie talkie for you. And let’s not forget the liberal, Doug, who turns into an action hero by the time the movie is over. He gets kicked about fifty times, is slapped in the face with a chain of bullets, gets parts of him cut off, has a loved one’s head blown off, and can’t get his Razor phone to work. Yeah, I’d be an action hero too.
The ending seems to dilute the once nuclear family into a smaller, tighter knit unit bound by the need to survive and the presence of the badass Doug and their awesome dog, Beast. It’s a feel good horror movie if you can tolerate the gruesome depravity for the whole time. You won’t learn anything from it and you’ll probably be disgusted, but at least you’ll wet yourself the next time you decide to take a road trip through the desert.
Player 2: DrSpengler
I find this movie to be very difficult to rate accurately. Not because it was a mixed bag, it was quite good on the whole. No, I’m just feeling very confused right now, that’s all.
You see, this movie is a remake of the original film by Wes Craven made way back in the late 70’s. But this film isn’t just a remake, oh no. As a matter of fact, it’s virtually an EXACT DUPLICATE of the original film (save for the inclusion of iPods and bottled water)! It’s as if someone took the script to the original film and just reworked a little of the dialogue. And I do mean “a little”, as even most of the dialogue from the original version remains intact. The plot, the pacing, the characters, their appearances…practically NOTHING about the script has changed.
But for those not acquainted with the original, here’s the run-down: a vacationing family are lead astray into the blistering desert by a creepy gas station attendant. Once their car breaks-down, however, they find themselves the prey of psychotic hillbillies what dwell in yonder cliffs. One-by-one they are gradually thinned-out and eaten until finally the remaining family members snap and begin using the brutal tactics of the hillbillies against them.
The only initially noticeable change of plot to the original is that Jupiter’s clan of misfits are now a horde of radioactive mutants instead of just being ugly. I’ll admit, the change adds an extra zing to the movie and does make the hillbillies a good measure creepier.
Other than that, an extended hunt for the baby and a wretchedly misplaced “Hollywood-Ending”, this movie has absolutely nothing to offer that the original did not. Think of it in relation to the Vince Vaughn remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Granted, this remake manages to deviate from the original a bit more than that debacle, but only by a fraction.
“But Doxtuh Spengwuh, I havun’t seen da owiginaw”, you say? Well, then I whole-heartedly recommend you see this movie. The original Hills Have Eyes was a brutal, dirty, uncomfortably disturbing horror movie, and so is this remake. However, this remake throws some more gore and a collection of mutant freaks into the mix just to ensure nobody can possibly get bored.
Now, you see why I feel so confused? This movie is painfully uncreative and remarkably unnecessary. But it’s still a GOOD movie. But the only reason it’s good is because the ORIGINAL was good! And this movie is exactly like the original!! GAH!!
All I can really suggest is that, if you’ve seen the original then don’t bother with this remake. You’ll just be paying $9 bucks to see the exact same movie over again. Now, if you have NOT seen the original, then I highly recommend you give this movie a shot. However, if you feel like staying home this weekend, but still want to see the movie, then just rent the original because it’s completely identical.
Now, “On the Relative Grading Scale of The Hills Have Eyes”, a good movie would be “The Hills Have Eyes”, but since this movie was exactly the same as the original, it ranks as a “The Hills Have Eyes”. And that’s the most appropriate grade I could give it.