ONE YEAR AFTER Alexandre Aja’s remake of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes received (quite rightfully) positive reviews, it was almost inevitable that the films creators would start looking toward creating a franchise.
It’s main drive would come from the films’ original creator, Craven and his son, Jonathan.
And on face value, the initial premise that was laid out ignited a sense of passion in me. “I’d like to fucking see that!”, I proclaimed, until that is that on closer scrutiny, it was just a rehash of “Aliens” but instead of xenomorphs that an army faces up to, it’s a group of mutants out in New Mexico that need to be annihilated.
Wait, maybe that does sound awesome. Craven apparently even planned to have the surviving daughter, Brenda enlist in the army to overcome her demons only to go all “Ripley-esque” when called upon to go back into the wilderness to physically face them head to head, as she is the only person who knows their lay of the land.
Only problem was that Emile de Ravin, who played Brenda in the remake was committed to TV series, Lost at the time the film was due to go into production.
That’s okay, we’ll just create a new protagonist in Amber, who will walk the same path as had been intended for Brenda. Job done, yes?
So why then did the movie fall short and not launch this franchise into stronger territory?
Ironically enough, The Hills Have Eyes 2 would suffer the same fate as the original remake, The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 did.
Both films completely ignored the concept of a family pitted in terror against an unknown assailant that was both brutal and destructive, stripped down to the very essence of what it is to be human.
In a raw, animalistic approach to survival, the family has no option but to resort to drastic measures in order to live through the torment.
It is that rage that is buried within us all that rises to the surface when we have nothing else to fall back on and nothing left to lose.
That’s why the original movie resonated so strongly in societies ethos.
It cut out all the bullshit and crap that comes with our social make up and shone a mirror to our flaws and pretentiousness to convey who we all are underneath.
It’s why Aja’s version was so well received, because it managed to carry that same message and deliver tenfold on the anarchy.
By ignoring the very premise and notion or hunger for survival, you tear away all the drama and beauty that encapsulated the original movie and from there you will always fall short.
Yes, you should probably commend Craven for trying to push the story in a new direction.
Hell, they even teamed up with Fox Atomic comics to produce a stand alone comic called The Hills Have Eyes: The Beginning, which also treads along the path of the army vs the mutants theme, but in this instance it creates and additional pet peeve of mine, in trying to humanise the mutants.
In doing so, it destroys not only the mystery behind them, but also the threat that they once posed in the original is destroyed in the process.
So, whilst it does strive to explore the universe further, in doing so, the essence of what made the world so great, just crumbles and withers away.
It’s a shame, because I feel there is still merit in exploring that world once more.
And there’s a lot of political commentary that is ripe for the picking if they chose that journey wisely, but it remains to be seen if the film industry will choose to go back into the hills once more.
- Paul Farrell