March 29, 2007

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The Hills Have Eyes 2 (R)
More 20somethings get hacked up and eaten by crazy deformed mutant cave dwellers in the joyless gorefest The Hills Have Eyes 2.

Remember that family that was terrorized down to its last members in the first movie? By the first few minutes of this movie we are convinced (if we weren’t already) that they are dead, leaving room for a new set of hacked limbs and heads. (The villains here, you’ll remember, are the miners who used to live in this New Mexico desert and didn’t leave when the military started testing nuclear bombs in the area. Now, they have heads shaped like deformed garlic bulbs and they live on the human flesh of anyone who stumbles into their part of the desert. Anyone but the women, who they keep around to make more deformed flipper babies.)

The army has decided to put up some sensors in the testing grounds near where the Carter family disappeared and, not long into this task, all of those assorted officers and scientists have disappeared. In comes a group of somewhat bumbling army National Guard soldiers to … well, I don’t remember and anyway it doesn’t matter what their mission was; their purpose is to die horribly, one by one.

Most of the soldiers exist simply to cover the others with a spray of their blood when they die but eventually we get to know a few — there’s the peacenik, smarter-than-the-average-grunt Napoleon (Michael McMillian), the scaredy girl Amber (Jessica Stroup) and the single-mom Missy (Daniella Alonso). They are the ones we hang out with longest and watch get terrorized the most, particularly Missy, who is brutally raped by one of the mutants, perhaps the one Internet Movie Database calls Hades (Michael Bailey Smith), though really, who can tell?

Her rape scenes and the very fact they are even in a movie as callous about violence as this movie disturbed me even more than the disturbing rape scenes from the first movie. It seems out of place to put such real violence in a movie that so gleefully fills its screen with fake violence. If you want to play with the “Rated R” toys, you gotta do it right.

That I even had time to knit my brow over this or to try to figure out what commentary, if any, the ham-fisted character types of the soldiers might be trying to deliver about the war in Iraq or the state of the world says it all about the overall state of the movie. Low-rent actors fill the frames in dusty desert scenes that seem shot in a hurry with no real concern for their quality. People get killed in completely expected ways and after a while your only interest is in seeing enough of them killed quickly enough to get us to the movie’s end. Even at an hour and a half, that end didn’t come nearly soon enough. D-

Rated R for prolonged sequences of strong gruesome horror violence and gore, a rape and language. Directed by Martin Wiesz and written by Jonathan Craven and Wes Craven, The Hills Have Eyes 2 is an hour and 29 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by 20th Century Fox.