Every so often, a romance film comes along and toys with our concept of love. Such a film challenges our beliefs, captures our hearts and defines a generation. “The Hills Have Eyes,” however, is no such film.
“The Hills Have Eyes” is the story of a middle class family that is murdered/raped/eaten, respectively, by a lovable clan of mutated desert people.
To classify this film as a “scary movie” would be a pimp slap in the face to its director, Alexander Aja. “The Hills Have Eyes” is the creme-de-la-creme of horror films, the lo-mejor-de-lo-mejor of the slasher genre, the akht-oont-tsvan-tsigh of gory cinema. The eigo-no-dekiru-oisha-san-ga-imasu-ka of the silver screen.
In plain English, “The Hills Have Eyes,” or as I like to call it, “10 Things I Hate About New Mexico,” is a great film.
If you have never been to New Mexico, you may not know this, but its desert hills are teeming with mutated cannibals. No kidding. In fact, nearly 70 percent of the world’s mutated cannibals can be found in New Mexico, with the remaining 30 percent residing in Laguna Beach and remote regions of Indochina.
Like every great American film, “The Hills have Eyes” contains the classic story elements of the mistake, the lesson and the moral.
Act I- Ted Levine stars as a recently retired detective who takes his all-American family on a cross-country roadtrip to California via the scorching deserts of New Mexico. While gassing up his 1988 Airstream camper, the unbelievably naive dad is given instructions to a “faster route” from an old man who appears to enjoy giving lost travelers bad directions.
Ignoring the practical advice of his wife, the stubborn father takes the faster route and predictably delivers his family into a community of moody yet charismatic animal-people.
The dad never thought to ask if this “faster route” contained any animal-people. Big mistake. I always ask that.
“You can get to Houston faster if you take that dirt road.”
“Will I run into any animal-people?”
“I’ll just stick to 45 then.”
ACT II-As expected, the family vehicle breaks down and our heroes are stranded miles away from civilization. It appears that the Sprint “Can you hear me now?” personality missed New Mexico as their cellphones become useless. To make a short story shorter, the uber-macho pop grabs his trusty gun, heads out for help in the desert night and walks into one of the most gruesome torture scenes since “The Passion of the Christ.”
Lesson-Guns do not kill people, mutated mountain people kill people.
With dad dead, the hill folk charge the family camper with the tenacity of a Denver Bronco blitz. Mom catches a shotgun to the chest, the oldest daughter is killed, little sis is groped like a drunken fan after a Green Day concert and the family baby is stolen. They steal the baby! In case you did not know, hill folk do not like out-of-towners. They even stab the family dog.
Lesson-Every family needs a father to protect them from hill monsters.
ACT III-The film’s most unlikely hero emerges in the form of a wimpy tech-geek who looks as though he would have trouble throwing a mid-sized stone. After a couple of beatings and the loss of a few fingers, our unlikely savior recaptures his baby and attempts to glue together the pieces of his decapitated life.
Moral-Never drive through the desert with your wife’s family.
I will not ruin the end of the film, but “The Hills Have Eyes” was very entertaining for a film that looks like it cost $2.75 to make. Suffice to say, government experiments in the desert result in hideous mutations, suffice to say trying to save a buck by driving through New Mexico is never a good idea, suffice to say shortcuts are never safe and most importantly, suffice to say I do not really know what suffice means.