The Hills Have Eyes 2 is the sequel to last year’s remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 exploitation classic, which itself had a follow-up that this new series entry—written by Craven and his son Jonathan—isn’t based upon. This lineage, however, isn’t the only convoluted aspect of Martin Weisz’s scatterbrained film, which seesaws ineptly between stale horror clichés, ludicrously excessive gore, and political allegory that’s at once pitifully obvious and hopelessly confused. Taking place sometime shortly after its 2006 predecessor (and taking a page from Aliens), this latest chapter follows a group of lousy neophyte National Guardsmen as they segue from failing a training exercise for a mission in Kandahar to New Mexico’s mysterious Section 16, a former nuclear testing site where a cannibalistic mutant family resides. A stale cross-section of genre types (lowlighted by a lisping, overweight doofus), the story’s protagonists are, for the most part, gutted or dropped from high places, though Weisz has neither the patience nor the deft touch necessary to generate suspense, and thus telegraphs most of his intended scares. And despite the fact that the soldiers bicker and make decisions like rash, immature children, the “return of the repressed” family dynamic found in Craven’s original (and, to a far lesser extent, Alexandre Aja’s update) is almost absent, here replaced with fuzzy metaphors for current U.S. overseas campaigns. Forced to battle crafty indigenous adversaries who live in caves, the servicemen and women find themselves in a surreal version of Afghanistan (or, I guess, Iraq), a warlike situation for which they’re ill-prepared and in which they behave like selfish, cocky boors. The film’s apparent critique extends to the fact that its villains are, at heart, byproducts of American military endeavors. Yet if such points are to be taken seriously, then it also holds that Craven’s script equates Arabs with drooling Toxic Avenger-style mutants, as well as believes that anti-war sentiments are for whiny wimps who still haven’t learned that the universal rule of law is kill or be killed-and-then-eaten (or, if you’re a female, kill or be raped-and-impregnated-with-monster-fetuses). Regardless, the film’s defining emblematic moment comes when a man crawls out of a Port-O-Potty covered in feces, thereby providing an approximation of the audience’s experience.
- Fox Atomic
- 89 min
- Martin Weisz
- Wes Craven, Jonathan Craven
- Michael McMillian, Jessica Stroup, Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Lee Thompson Young, Ben Crowley, Eric Edelstein, Flex Alexander
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