After an excellent and quite disturbing remake of the seventies horror classic, we got a surprisingly solid sequel. The Hills Have Eyes 2 is a simple, brutal, and pacey action horror movie that just works. And just to be clear it has nothing to do with the 1985 movie of the same name. It offers nothing new and revolutionary but if you’re hungry for some inbred mutant action, it’s going to do just fine. Although, as we will soon learn, these mutants might not be as inbred as it seems at first glance. Right from the truly disgusting and nasty opening scene, The Hills Have Eyes 2 grabs your attention and it doesn’t let go until the end. And by the end, I mean the final third but more about that later.
We will be following a group of soldiers who find themselves lost in the mountains inhabited by murderous mutants. Since almost all of the story takes place in the natural environment or decrepit mines, most of the money went to the practical effects team. And they did a terrific job along with the make-up department. Our killer mutants look great or horrific, depending on how you look at it but you know what I mean. The pacing is excellent and there’s not a dull moment in this ninety-minute modern slasher. Sure, the story is kind of predictable but at least it moves at a solid pace.
The initial idea, reminiscent of the Alien and Aliens sequel concepts had a lot of potential. And sadly most of it went unused. This is certainly nowhere near Alexandre Aja’s 2004 remake The Hills Have Eyes. But, as I already said, if you’re looking for a horror movie to run in the background this one is a solid choice. The mostly unknown cast did a great job with Jacob Vargas and Flex Alexander leading the way.
The movie was shot in the same place as the original, in the picturesque mountains of Ouarzazate, Morocco. And the mine shafts were designed by the same people who worked on 2005 hit The Descent. Finally, the script is written by Wes Craven and his son Jonathan. In case you didn’t know, Wes wrote, directed and edited the original 1977 movie.
A group of inexperienced members of the National Guard just got their latest assignment. They need to deliver a bunch of equipment to the scientist running experiments in the nearby mountains. When they get to the base camp they notice it’s completely abandoned. Then they see something moving in the hills above. They split into two groups and decide to investigate not knowing what they’re about to encounter. A cunning, depraved and vicious enemy capable of anything…
One of the biggest complaints I have about The Hills Have Eyes 2 is the messy nature of the final third. It was stumbling through the dark without a clear goal. And the movie also didn’t offer any kind of background info on the mutants. I think this would make the whole thing feel more impactful and tighter. Combine this with irrational decision making and the movie starts looking worse and worse. At least there were some pretty good kills. It’s funny to think that the original idea for this sequel was quite good.
One of the survivors of the original ordeal, Brenda (Emilie de Ravin), decides to join the National Guard in order to overcome her traumatic experience. And then she ends up in the same fucking hills she almost died in last time. Although the whole thing sounds more unbelievable, it offers better character development and a sense of continuity. Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies check out Wrong Turn and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 edition. Turns out there are a lot fewer of these mutants vs humans movies than I previously thought…
Director: Martin Weisz
Writers: Wes Craven, Jonathan Craven
Cast: Daniella Alonso, Jacob Vargas, Philip Pavel, Jessica Stroup, Lee Thompson Young, Flex Alexander
Fun Facts: The make for the mutant Chameleon took whopping four hours to apply.