The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

One from the re watch pile…

The Hills Have Eyes (2006)

Film: The early 2000s were a wonderful time when every second movie that was released was a remake, not like now when every movie is a Disney film, and every forum on the Internet was rife with old school horror lovers screaming blue murder that a remake would wreck ‘their’ film.

Here’s a few pointers:

-a remake doesn’t wreck an original film…in actual fact it does nothing to it other than bring attention to it.

it’s not ‘your’ film, and the owners of the rights can do whatever they feel like to it. You are just playing in their backyard.

Anyway, this remake was directed by French director Alexandre Aja, whose previous film was the unusual, and violent psychological film Haute Tension aka High Tension which many people were stunned by both for its extreme gore, and is use of trickery, and blatant lies to tell its tale. The script, whilst based on Wes Craven’s original film, is written by Gregory Levasseur, who also worked on Haute Tension and Aja’s next film, Mirrors.

The Hills Have Eyes remake tells of a family who are travelling across the New Mexico desert on holiday. When the father, Big Bob (Ted Levine) is told of a short cut not on the map by a gas station attendant of dubious moral, he proves he must have never seen a horror movie a decides to take it.

Part of the way across this ‘short cut’ the family are in a accident staged by a bunch of mutants who live in the mines in the hills, and in the governmental built town made to see how nuclear weapons would effect suburbs. These mutants are the results of the fallout subjected their ancestors.

Quickly, the family are subjected to murder, rape and cannibalism before one of them steps up his game and decides to set things straight, and carves a path of blood and guts across the desert.

Aja proves that his Haute Tension film was not a fluke, and this, his first American film, sits high on my list of amazing remakes, along with John Carpenter’s The Thing and Chuck Russell’s The Blob. Aja has taken Craven’s film and really increased the levels of every threat the family encounter.

A special shout-out has to go to the effects, which to me are a seamless combination of CGI and practical effects, and the soundtrack, not just the incidental music but also the bizarre choices of songs for the opening and closing credits, particularly the opening which is combined with 1950s styled happy-housemaker adverts and deformities of the children of people who were exposed to Agent Orange in Viet Nam.

There is a lot to love about this film and dare I say it, I like it far more than the original.

Score: ****

Format: This film was reviewed with the Australian, region B Bluray release of the film, which is presentin a crystal clear 2.35:1 image and a matching Dolby DTS-HD 5.1 audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: There is a few extras on here which are a pain to access as the disc has no menu screen, so whilst the film is playing you have to use your ‘Pop-up Menu’ button to access them.

There are two commentaries, one by Aja, writer Levassuer and Producer Marianne Maddalena and another by Producers Peter Locke and horror legend Wes Craven. Either individually or watched one after the other they offer a whole pile of interesting anecdotes of the making of the film.

There are 7 Production diaries which can be watched individually or as a job lot. They are crappy handicap filmed behind the scenes stuff with no offer of an explanation throughout and each one only goes for about two minutes. Ultimately worthless.

We also have trailers for this film, From Hell and X-men: The Last Stand.

Score: ***

WISIA: I really dig it so, yeah: 100%

My Soul To Take (2010)

One from the re watch pile…

My Soul To Take (2010)

Film: I’m glad I didn’t peak early. I look at people who peaked early in their careers and pity them… well, I haven’t peaked yet so I don’t pity them too much as I don’t know what it feels like, but I imagine trying to reclaim glory must be a total bummer.

Wes Craven is an early peaker to me. Last House on the Left and A Nightmare On Elm Street, especially Nightmare, are two films that are revered by the horror community at large, and Nightmare is one of my favourites of all time. After Nightmare though, Craven didn’t really achieve much until Scream, and even though many love it, the first of them never resonated with me because it was obviously a parody and I also wasn’t much of a nineties TV watcher, so the appeal of Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox meant nothing to me… well, Ok, Drew Barrymore was an appeal but thats it, and it did lead me to discover Rose McGowan!

Anyway, in a further attempt to get another franchise started, we have this film, My Soul To Take, written and directed by Craven, but it feels like a passionless pandering to a studio rather than an exciting creative endeavour… mind you, that’s what so many blockbuster films feel like these days.

My Soul To Take tells the starts off with a man who is having trouble controlling his split personalities and he kills his very pregnant wife in front of his young daughter, after it’s revealed that he is a serial killer known as ‘The Ripper’.

We flash forward to sixteen years later and we discover that the town that The Ripper lived in was one where 7 children were born on the one night, the night the Ripper was killed, one of them being a troubled young man known as ‘Bug’ (Max Theriot) who seems to have his own issues with multiple personalities disorder.

On the anniversary of their birthdays, the 7 kids visit the scene of where the Ripper was killed, a wrecked ambulance, and perform a ritual where the exorcise his spirit for another year. This year it is Bug’s turn to do the deed but he fails when the police turn up to clear the kids out.

Bug is concerned that in failing his mission he has caused doom to come to the town, and maybe it has as the group who share the same birthday start being picked off one-by-one… but is it Bug? It sure seems like it is….

The main problem with this film is there are more loose threads that a pair of undies bought from Best and Less. When the final resolution is revealed, it still doesn’t explain why Bug was absorbing his friend’s personalities or if he was actually absolving their spirits, and why, at only 16, have these children created a myth about the Ripper that feels like it’s been in place for years? At 16 they could only have been doing this ritual for a couple of years so why did it become so ingrained in the social vernacular? On that point, why did the local council leave a burnt out ambulance by the side of a road for 16 years?!?

Basically the entire film has moments of nonsense that aren’t accompanied by anything original. At least Scream made it obvious it was a parody and that kind of made its standard horror tropes ok, this just feels like Craven repeating himself.

The cast are also unconvincing and boring, and even the Ripper has a generic voice that replicates Freddy’s to the point of being a total rip-off.

Can one rip off their own stuff? Yes.

All in all this is a boring, by-the-numbers crapfest of a film with zero redeeming features. Avoid, evade and fend off any opportunity to watch this film. It’s terrible.

Score: *

Format: This Review was performed with the Australian region B Bluray which runs for approximately 107 minutes had has a fantastic 2.35:1 image with a matching DTS-HD 5.1 Audio track.

Score: *****

Extras: The disc opens with a trailer for the Jean Reno flick 22 Bullets before going straight to the menu.

There are then 5 extras:

Audio commentary with Craven, Theriot, John Magaro and Emily Meade, which when Craven is talking is interesting, but the actors tend to be self-indulgent.

There is also a Theatrical Trailer and Deleted and extended scenes and Alternate opening and endings which the film benefits to not have included, though there are a few images here that are cool, even if they are also reminiscent of other pieces of Cravens work

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: Nope. It’s absolute rubbish.