Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Hills Have Eyes II (2007)

Has Wes Craven always been nastily conservative, or is this a recent development? I mean, The Last House on the Left was essentially telling the world that the counterculture will kill you, but it was framed within a larger statement about the innate bestiality of man and the soullessness of violence. (Never mind that the film's terrible, that IS what it's trying to say.) But between the valentine to Homeland Security that was Red Eye and this film, which he scripted with his son Jonathan, it's like he's not trying to hide it anymore. It has all the subtlety of WWII propaganda: The Enemy, which lives in tunnels in the desert, is a bunch of inhuman hulking murderous mutants, and they want to kill our frightened & inexperienced soldiers (mostly the minority ones) while raping/miscegenatin' with our women so as to destroy the America we all love. Why? Because, well, that's what they do. Not that I'm a Taliban lover or anything, but shouldn't we as a culture be above stone-dumb stuff like this? The real enemy is scary precisely because they ARE human. We don't need to be turning them into pustule-riddled mutants to make them terrifying. Odd how 300 doesn't bother me, but this crude thing does. (It's also odd that this film seems to buy into that which its predecessor satirized.)

Even if you discount that (and it's pretty easy to discount -- didn't even hit me until the noxious climax), this sequel to Alexandre Aja's not-good-but-interesting film is a waste of celluloid. Aside from one good jump involving a sinkhole, Martin Weisz telegraphs every single sting he has and leans hard on grotesquerie for its own sake rather than making something out of it. He does nothing to distinguish his film, visually or atmospherically, so the only sport is waiting for the clueless National Guard recruits who run through this film to get butchered in increasingly-unpleasant ways. It seems this film's sole intent is not to be frightening or disturbing but unpleasant; by the time the graphic mutant rape scene arrives on scene, that ugly intent has been achieved with flying colors. The cast, mostly novices, is uniformly terrible; the only note of distinction is how many of them look like more famous actors, with Jessica Stroup in particular coming off like a poor man's version of Melissa George. (Think about how sad it is that there's a lower-budget version of the chick who thought Turistas was a good career move.) Hopefully, this thing will sink into the scrapheap of cinematic history just as quickly as 1985's The Hills Have Eyes Part II.

Grade: D


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