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The Hills Have Eyes 2: Unrated

In looking for something good to say about The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007), it's tempting to point out that the production values are very good — the film obviously had a decent budget, and there's some real artistry to the camerawork. Unfortunately, when a movie's as soulless, pointless, plotless, and utterly devoid of inspiration as this one, that's the equivalent of saying, "Well, at least it was in focus." Director Martin Weisz' primary experience has been that of making music videos for the likes of Korn, Nickelback, Brandy, and Sisqo (although his previous feature effort, the 2006 cannibal-killer flick Rohtenberg, had the distinction of being banned in Weisz' native Germany thanks to its graphic carnage) so, perhaps, he was unaware that longer-form films actually need plots. The opening credits treat us to a woman seemingly in the act of being either raped or tortured — or both — but which turns out to be the graphically bloody birth of a mutant baby. Cut to a bunch of government scientists doing something non-specific in Area 16, the site of the mutant slaughter in the 2006 Hills remake, and naturally serving as easy pickin's for Papa Hades (Michael Bailey Smith) and the remaining members of his mutated family. Next, we move on to a National Guard unit on practice maneuvers, being chewed out by their stereotypically abrasive sergeant because, well, they suck. Thankfully, they're quickly given the orders to A) take a bunch of weapons out to a desert rifle range for practice and B) deliver "some equipment" to the scientists at Area 16, and this creaky wagon has been set in motion. The script, credited to Wes Craven and his son Jonathan, is nothing more than set-ups for gory killings, first above ground on the rocky desert terrain, then underground in a series of dark tunnels and bunkers, where it's difficult to tell what's going on most of the time. Add an extraordinarily unpleasant rape of one of the female guards, and you have an empty shell of a horror film that's nothing more than an exercise in creepy bloodletting, with no suspense, character development, plot arc, or real terror. It's a movie that was obviously made fast to earn easy sequel money without any creativity or care, and it's especially disappointing when one considers that Alexandre Aja's 2006 version of Wes Craven's 1977 original was actually not too bad. There's just no good reason for this movie to exist, nor any reason for anyone to watch it.

Fox's DVD release of The Hills Have Eyes 2 is as clean and crisp as one would expect from a new release, with a sharp anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and excellent DD 5.1 audio (English with optional 2.0 Spanish, and subtitles in English or Spanish) that captures each broken bone, wet squishy munch, and pounding bass to amplify the jump-scares. There are four making-of featurettes, each of which is self-explanatory: "Birth of a Graphic Novel" (13 min.), "Exploring the Hills: The Making of The Hills Have Eyes 2," (13 min.) , "Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Wes Craven" (10 min.), and "Mutant Attacks" (10 min.). Also on board are four deleted scenes (3 min.), and alternate ending (1 min.), a gag reel (1 min.), and the trailer for the 2006 remake. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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