Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Hills Have Eyes 2

  Oh man, if liking Wrong Turn 2 made me question if I've grown fond of crappy horror movies, The Hills Have Eyes 2 had the answer, and the answer is a big resounding "No." I don't see how anyone could like this one. In this 80 something minute slog, there's maybe 5 minutes that are actually watchable and borderline good. If you lower your standards even more, maybe- just MAYBE you could possibly find the last 20 minutes approaching something resembling 'interesting'. But, in all honesty this is one of those movies that you either feel you have to see, or you're a sane person and stayed the hell away.

   I cannot even begin to adequately express how much of a crime it is that Wrong Turn 2 got stuck with a direct-to-video release, while this saw the light of day in movie theaters everywhere. This feels like a made for TV movie, whereas Wrong Turn 2 had some decent production value more or less. Either that, or they just made better use of what they did have regardless. First of all, the characters in this movie are the most annoying and insipid assholes I've seen in a movie in quite a long fucking time. Things like common sense and bravery are punished in this movie, not by the villains, but by our protagonists' commanding officer. Oh, didn't I mention? All the "protagonists" this time are soldiers-  and, "Rookie soldiers" at that.

   I'm taking a deep breath right now, just so you know. The plot of the movie takes place some time after the first one. Some on screen text before the movie starts lets us know that the military stepped in after the events of the first movie and that there was some search and destroy missions into the hills where the Hills' clan lives. In a kinder world, THAT would've been the actual plot for the movie, but it's not. It's the... prologue? Or something? No, we don't get anything so logical as a story that directly deals with the consequences of the previous movie- no no no, that would make too much sense. Instead, there's a team of... scientists up there? Doing God knows what, with a military escort of course, but still.

  Anyhow, our rookie soldiers are tasked with delivering some equipment to the scientists out there and when they get there, everyone is dead. This 'plot' is paper thin, insultingly stupid, and it seems like it was intentionally angled so that the writer could avoid having to do any research about anything at all- namely the freaking military. These guys seem as immature and as petulant as a group of 'problematic' high school students. They start fights among each other, call each other names, a few them are always trying to steal away so they can fuck each other, and there's no sense of teamwork whatsoever. Did the writer think calling them "rookies" would adequately explain all that? 'Rejects' would've been a better term! One little switched detail and the plot would've made more sense. If these soldiers were troublemakers enduring some sort of official punishment, that would've made for a more interesting story as well.

  No such luck here. We're stuck with these "rookies" as they poke around the hills looking for survivors. Again, anyone in the movie who voices an idea with any iota of common sense is reprimanded and treated like an idiot. I was getting tired of this movie not even a full 15 minutes into it. This didn't feel like a sequel to The Hills Have Eyes remake, which was actually a gritty and terrifying flick with style and plenty of gore. Amazingly, it's sequel has less gore, but more disposable characters. 90% of the movie is just the soldiers wandering around while things dart around behind them set to "creepy" crescendos in the score.

  When the two big highlights of your movie are a grotesque, graphic and context-less birth scene, and then a horrific rape scene... you know your "horror" movie is in trouble. There was so little creativity here, not even a sense of bloody mayhem. Things just didn't even really happen until the movie was 70% over. People got attacked here and there, but somehow it was just... boring. That rape scene I mentioned? One of the ONLY scary parts in the whole movie. Maybe the ONLY scary part, and it's only scary because rape is scary. Not because the filmmakers tackled it with any tact or skill- just that rape is scary and disturbing whether or not the filmmaking behind it is competant in the least. It's cheap and insulting because rape doesn't need to be well written to be frightening- it just is. I give the makers of this movie no credit for that white-knuckle sequence, but I do take my hat off to the actress that had to endure it.

  Not to mention it seems to go on forever. We see it start, and then shortly after it starts we cut away. Like, ten minutes later we cut back to it and it's still going on! When we exit that scene, it was still happening. It was gut wrenching. From that point on, (which was about 14 minutes to the end of the movie, including the runtime of the end credits) the movie gets watchable. Emotions run strong and the actors seem to discover how to actually... act. Yelling and screaming, pure fear and lots of tears. The last 12 to 15 minutes of the movie are... passably watchable. They waited til the end to show off the only interesting set in the whole flick, what appears to be the Hills' clan meat locker/butchering room. It's a horrific and disturbing set piece loaded with disturbing imagery and gross-out gory props. No wonder we only have to spend a minute or two in there.

  Because why would this movie want to even remotely gross us out or scare us? No, it just seems content to bore us until the very end. If you liked the first movie, like I do, and feel strongly compelled to watch this mind-numbingly mediocre follow-up, please just... don't. Or if you really really want to, for whatever Godforsaken reason, at least spare yourself a majority of the boredom and just skip around until you get to maybe the last 20 minutes. Even though the mutant cannibals had a bit more diversity this time, and there were some really cool designs, it was all wasted on a lame story fueled by horrible writing, terrible characterization, and some of the most uninteresting death scenes in history. There's no reason to watch this flick. Skip it. I only wish I had listened to the naysayers myself.

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