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The Hills Have Eyes

by Archives March 15, 2006

Grade: A-

Nearly 30 years ago, audiences were first introduced to the The Hills Have Eyes. With the original movie directed by cult horror director Wes Craven, it only made sense that this new rendition of the classic was to be directed by the genre’s most promising director, Alexandre Aja. The French filmmaker wowed audiences with last year’s Haute Tension, a gruesome shocker that still has tongues wagging.

For this revival of the classic, the premises are the same, but the plot has been updated to fit in this new millennium. What was supposed to be the Carter family’s bonding trip turns into a nightmare when their car breaks down and they find themselves stranded in a desert. Once night falls, they realize they might not be alone in the seemingly deserted surroundings. Once they actually realize that the hills do have eyes, so to speak, the nightmare really begins.

Hidden in the hills is an evil far worse than they have ever witnessed. Within years of nuclear testing, the US government has created a clan of outcasts who have remained confined to the hills. In order to survive, they have been forced to turn to cannibalism, a practice they seem to have come to enjoy. Now, whoever trespasses onto their territory becomes a potential meal.

The main difference between this movie and the classic is the amount of gore. Aja has already built a solid reputation as a filmmaker with a taste for blood. Whoever was grossed by Haute Tension quickly realizes this was only a warning; a glimpse of what Aja can really do. And boy, does he know how to please his fans.

From the first scene, the audience realizes that they are in for a good time: a bloody good time that is. Scene after scene, the tension reaches levels no one could have prepared for. As heads roll, limbs are severed, and blood flows, horror enthusiasts will be left cheering in their seats.

The main challenge with this horror movie is that the action takes place in the broad daylight. While many horror directors rely on dark alleys and spooky atmospheres to create fear, Aja did the absolute opposite. He relies solely on his plot and special effects to create genuine fear. He succeeds in keeping audiences on the edge of their seats from the first frame to the last.

What makes Aja’s rendition so efficient is that he was, to begin with, a fan of the original. He spares no expenses in his homage to the movie he has seen over and over again growing up.

In order to make this movie work, Aja turned to talented actors to perform the lead roles. The entire cast delivers superior performances to what the genre has gotten us used to. The special effects are also instrumental in making this movie so frightening: coupled with astonishing make-up, the scenes become so realistic, you will not believe your eyes. In fact the results are so convincing that you will not want to believe your eyes.

The Hills Have Eyes is what horror fans have been waiting for: a gore fest that kicks you in the face with its over-the-top spectacle of gratuitous violence, yet leaves you begging for more.

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