Director: Martin Weisz
Cast: Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas
I still remember watching The Hills Have Eyes last year. It's a remake of the original film directed by Wes Craven 30 years ago. Alexander Aja made a great film which successfully delivered fear and violence while giving weight to the victims as we rooted them on. In case you aren't familiar with this story, let me fill you in. It's about a suburban American family who take a wrong turn during a trip into the New Mexico desert and get slaughtered by a group of cannibalistic freaks, who seem to have survived nuclear testing done by the government many years ago in that area.
In this sequel, viewers are taken back to the same area, through the eyes of a young group of National Guard trainees sent to deliver equipment to a group of military scientists stationed there. This latest task apparently is a form of punishment for the trainees who fouled up during their training course. Poor them. But poor us to have to watch what happens next.
Anyway, they get there to find the place deserted. They notice a reflection signal in the hills and decide to check it out. And this is where the shit hits the fan, as the freaks come out of hiding and start the carnage. One by one the trainees fall, despite their gallant attempts to stay alive. The ones that do survive towards the end of the story realise that they have to turn up the heat in order to win.
I had a bad feeling about this film when I got wind of it. I thought it would be an unnecessary sequel, and indeed it is. What made the first film commendable is the execution of the plot and great acting by its cast. This sequel however is everything the first film is not. It doesn't even feel related to the first film, despite having the same look and concept. What it does have is more violence and gore, most of which is meaningless, other than to show how low filmmakers can go to make their audience sick in their stomach. The disgusting birth sequence during the opening credits is just the beginning.
And the plot? These trainees, despite having skills in armed combat (little but existent nonetheless) are real stupid. Yes, stupid for lack of a better term. They walk in right where they know they shouldn't go, they bicker and argue amongst themselves when they know they should be watching their own backs instead and they find it impossible to work together even when the odds are against them. Who the heck came up with such characters that the audience would have no reason to care for? Blame it on Wes Craven and his son Jonathan for writing the script. It's odd that he would do so badly on a story he made a hit with back then.
What about the cast? That's another disaster. It's a collection of bad actors you've never heard of. None of them are even half as good as the first film's cast. The only one among them that I know of is Jacob Vargas, who was in Flight Of The Phoenix. It's unfortunate that he got to play the character that talks and cusses the most. What a waste. The others are not worth remembering, especially Flex Alexander, who plays the hopelessly idiotic sergeant of the group. The freaks are a lot like the ones before, and they also get killed in gruesome fashion. But all the violence seems unjustified, as if the filmmakers did so to push the envelope beyond the first film's reach. For example, if a freak doesn't die after you stab him violently, does it make sense to find another weapon and aim for his head, and do it again and again, each effort more violent than the last? Glorified gore, but not well executed or justified. It's just absolutely pointless. The tagline says "The lucky ones die fast". It should have said "The stupid ones die fast".
I seriously recommend the first film by Alexander Aja. Stay away from this one. Please. (1.5/5)