Typically, when a sequel to a successful horror film is green-lit less than one month after the release of the original (remake), it is easy to be pretty skeptical about the studio’s motivations. While Wes Craven, the creator of the original series was brought in, the real savior to The Hills Have Eyes 2 came from the hiring of German director Martin Weisz. Weisz’s first film is the controversial feature, Grimm Love, which was oddly enough also about cannibalism. The Hills Have Eyes 2 is his follow-up and it is safe to say, that unlike other directors, he did not fall into a sophomore slump.
Last year marked the rebirth of the Hills Have Eyes franchise under the direction of French filmmaker Alexandre Aja. As a whole, I was not a fan of the original however; Aja displayed a keen eye for horrific visuals. This time out, series creator Wes Craven wrote the screenplay and while some of the dialogue is trite and the characters boneheaded, Weisz more than makes up for the screenplay’s shortcomings with grisly action.
The premise of The Hills Have Eyes 2 is to its original (remake) as Aliens was to its predecessor. As one might imagine, the ruthlessness of the action is surprisingly intense. This helped it surpass the Aja film, as it went right for the audience’s guts, instead of letting them focus on its weaker story. The characters are of the usual horror film stock, but Weisz’s gruesome scenes and deaths, more than make up for it.
Speaking of gruesome, I am sure the studio had a hell of a time working with the MPAA on this picture. There is a very graphic birth at the beginning of the film, not to mention a body being folded in half and a nasty rape scene as the icing on the cake. This is one of the most disgusting and repulsive horror films I have seen in years and it is damn entertaining. There were several moments where I was applauding Weisz’s bravery. Even when a scene was heading towards predictability, Weisz would jumpstart the moment with a revolting and explicit display of carnage.
The cinematography from Sam McCurdy helps Weisz’s vision immensely. The characters in the Hills 2 end up in the caves, and without McCurdy’s understanding of how to light such a dark environment, the film would have looked grainy and lost intensity. McCurdy also was the Director of Photography for The Descent, another cave movie featuring gruesome, cannibalistic creatures, so the territory was nothing new.
For the most part the fast paced editing represented recent trends in horror films, but it was often nice to see the cuts not jump so rapidly that one could not tell what was going on. Often the editor, Kirk M. Morri and Weisz keep the gore on display, holding where other filmmakers might make an edit, which made the intensity and gruesomeness ratchet up a notch.
This flesh eating film is not everyone’s platter of brains, but if you loved the original or remake, you might consider sampling off of Weisz’s plate full of gore. Will it change the world? No, but Hills Have Eyes 2 is a bloody good time.
– G. Brandon Hill, MoviePulse