Canister X Movie Review #131: The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Written by Alexandre Aja and Grégory Levasseur
Directed by Alexandre Aja
Runtime 107 min.
4 out of 5
The story is simple: a family’s off on a holiday and have taken a short cut through the desert to get there. In order to make the trip, they pull up to a lone gas station in the middle of nowhere to top up the tank. Problem is, the gas attendant is in on a little secret and points them to a “short cut” that’s supposed to save them a couple hours. Instead, this short cut leads the family on the fast track to death as a pack of bloodthirsty mutants hunt the family as their next meal.
No, really, that’s the story. But you know what? I love it. Simple horror, straight and to the point. Here’s the good guys, here’s the bad guys, here’s the setting. Let’s see what happens. It works for me and it works for The Hills Have Eyes no problem. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the 1977 original so I can’t compare the two, but what I can tell you is the idea, as presented in the movie, of human-mutants caused by nuclear testing’s radioactivity was done well, especially since the mutations aren’t over the top but very believable (i.e. a guy with a big head; a little girl with a lopsided face; even the grossest of the bunch just seemed to have a few tumors the size of pool balls bulging under his skin).
This movie started off with a quick action scene, then the credits rolled, and the main story got under way. Since we as the viewers knew this family was in jeopardy almost right from the start, the slow build-up leading to the explosion of danger and gore was well worth the wait. Actually, I’m glad there was a long lead up before things went crazy. Made you care and relate to the family first before things started happening to them. Made it all the more painful when they got killed.
The one part that really got me jumping was the involvement of the baby who, it seemed, was around six months old. Being a parent, the thought of your child getting kidnapped is just terrifying. Add getting kidnapped by cannibal mutants to that and it really makes for sensitive watching. Every scene where I thought maybe something would happen to the kid, I was, like, “No, not that baby!” (What? Horror fans can’t be sensitive?)
The 180-degree character development of our hero, Doug Bukowski (Aaron Stanford) , was impressive especially since I really didn’t like him at all in the beginning, which was the point, and which was a success on the part of the filmmakers. Truly awesome.
The Hills Have Eyes was a fun horror movie that pleased this roadside horror fan to the nines. Going to be renting the sequel. Definitely.
Go see this.