Last year, the reboot of The Hills Have Eyes failed to capture the terror of Wes Craven’s original 1977 classic, but it performed well enough at the box office to convince the producers at Fox Atomic (a sub-division of 20th Century Fox) to speed up the production of a sequel. Truth be told, the result is nothing short of a tedious 90-minute glorification of violence and torture.
The Hills Have Eyes II lifts off as a group of military duds are ordered to deliver supplies to Sector 16 in the New Mexico desert, an area once used by the U.S. government for nuclear testing. Shortly after their arrival in what looks like an abandoned camp, the soldiers decide to track down their comrades in the hills, home to a pack of vicious mutants eager to kill anyone trespassing into their territory.
Carelessly written by Wes Craven and his son Jonathan, and directed by Martin Weisz, the mind behind the excellent cannibal tale Rohtenburg / Grimm Love, The Hills Have Eyes II follows a primitive plot structure. It starts off with nine characters so the audience can get to watch them die one by one as they tiptoe through old mines in the hopes of finding a way down the hills. This predictable structure serves only to kill off any potential for suspense the film might have had.
Throughout it all, the film relies on “boo” moments, most of which fall flat. Any semblance of character development is conspicuously absent; almost every time the actors open their mouths, they either say something stupid or the F-word. The filmmakers do make an attempt to depict the monsters as halfway smart (they keep women alive for breeding), but they botch that up with a grotesque rape scene.
Admittedly, the film’s pace picks up near the climax, but moments of suspense or real horror are scarce. If you are looking for a scary ride through some somber caves, go watch The Descent instead.
© Franck Tabouring
The Hills Have Eyes II (2007). Dir.: Martin Weisz. Scr.: Wes Craven and Jonathan Craven. Cast: Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas