The Hills Have Eyes 2
This review was written for the theatrical release of "The Hills Have Eyes 2."
One year after a retooling of Wes Craven's 1977 cult classic "The Hills Have Eyes" stormed the boxoffice, the hills are alive again with the sound of mutants.
But while those irradiated, cannibalistic hillbillies are back to prey upon more unsuspecting visitors, "The Hills Have Eyes 2" proves that even grisly, gory violence can be awfully boring.
Where French director Alexandre Aja instilled last year's remake with a certain amount of retro '70s style and sweaty dread, the new arrival, directed by Martin Weisz, is a poorly paced, blandly executed body count picture that stands around a lot marking time be-tween the bloody onslaughts.
Those dull results will mean there'll be less gold in them thar "Hills" than the $41.7 million mined previously, though the Fox Atomic release could make up the shortfall in its post-theatrical life.
Last time it was a vacationing American family that saw their numbers seriously diminished. This time, in the script written by Craven and his son Jonathan, it's a group of National Guard soldiers at the Yuma Flats Training and Testing Facility in New Mexico who come up against the bloodthirsty clan.
Sent on a routine mission to deliver equipment to scientists working in a top secret area known as Sector 16, the soldiers, with names like Amber (Jessica Stroup), Crank (Jacob Vargas) and Napoleon (Michael McMillian), arrive to discover that the research camp is deserted.
What they don't know is that after the surviving members of the hapless Carter family alerted the authorities, the U.S. military swept in and supposedly blasted away all traces of the nasty element.
Turns out that they missed a few, and the remaining mutants are hell-bent on repopulating and more determined to even the score for the nuclear test fallout that made them what they are today.
It seems like a workable premise, but the standard-issue Guardsman characters are so vapid and devoid of color, they all blend right into the desolate New Mexico backdrop (played again by Morroco).
Meanwhile, director Weisz, known for his commercial and video work, fails to work in any tangible tension or underlying suspense, leaving that heavy lifting to Trevor Morris' bombastic score.
As a result, the only folks jumping out of their seats are the ones going for a drink refill.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES 2
Director: Martin Weisz
Producers: Wes Craven, Marianne Maddalena, Peter Locke
Screenwriters: Wes Craven, Jonathan Craven
Executive producer: Jonathan Debin
Director of photography: Sam McCurdy
Production designer: Keith Wilson
Editors: Kirk Morri, Sue Blainey
Costume designer: Janie Bryant
Music: Trevor Morris
Napoleon: Michael McMillian
Amber: Jessica Stroup
Crank: Jacob Vargas
Sarge: Flex Alexander
Delmar: Lee Thompson Young
Missy: Daniella Alonso
Mickey: Reshad Strik
Running time -- 88 minutes
MPAA rating: R