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The Hills Have Eyes

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
The Hills Have Eyes

from Film Forum, 03/16/06

Critics are having fun with the term "nuclear family" in describing of the latest horror-movie remake The Hills Have Eyes. But that doesn't mean they had fun watching it.

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says it's "a grisly and unnecessary remake," though director Alexandre Aja "proves adept at building suspense and an unnerving sense of isolation early on, before plunging into stomach-churning brutality, frequently involving pickaxes and craniums, that escalates as it steams toward its ludicrous climax."

He considers the value of great horror films as "useful metaphors for serious topics." But not in this case: "Irradiated minds may make Hills … out to be a commentary on the consequences of nuclear-age hubris. Yeah, right. Violent depravity passing as entertainment is more like it."

Brett Willis (Christian Spotlight) says the film's violence is "gross, harsh, unrelenting, and in-your-face. Buckets of blood. How many times can they show an axe or a spike being buried in someone's brain, before we get tired of it?" He adds, "Had this film been oriented differently, with a larger emphasis on the humanity of the mutants, it could have been a true heart-wrencher. As it is, it's constructed pretty much as a standard slasher; but the fact that there's lost innocence on both sides of the conflict means that no matter how the story ends, it will be unsatisfying."

"A scathing exposé on the horrible aftereffects of atomic testing? A green-minded assault on the proliferation of nuclear weaponry? Hardly," says Tom Neven (Plugged In). "More like a lame excuse to carnivalize cannibalism. The Hills Have Eyes originally received an NC-17 rating. One shudders to think what was deleted to get it down to this very hard R."

Mainstream critics are divided; some of them are impressed enough by the scare tactics to find it worthwhile. Others just find it mindless and chaotic.