What makes this film is not so much the violence, which is well choreographed for impact and brutality, with survivors ending up soaked in blood, or the story, which is a sort of expansion of a desert, mutant Deliverance (1972), the mutants themselves being suitably grotesque, but the carefully chosen killing grounds. The locations were a sort of hostile charm offensive, full of stunning rifts, ridges and craters, as well as a spooky ghost town and a dilapidated service stop. This important aspect made the camera work and editing all the more stark and real, so you can more easily feel the rising heat and sense of despair. The Hills Have Eyes is not really like Last House On The Left (2009), being a separate genre more in common with Wrong Turn (2003), The Descent (2005) or Feast (2005). I'd argue that The Hills is better than all three of those movies, though there is plenty of teenage alarm as in Wrong Turn, and the bad guys are similar. The bad guys are less similar in Descent or Feast, which involve basically a separate species after mutation, although the dropping off of characters one by one in highly dramatic incidents is now run-of-the-mill. Still, this is full-on entertainment with great casting and direction, some totally classic scenes and moments, and, for me, some cool originality. Admittedly I haven't seen the original Wes Craven film. The plot wasn't predictable, and the tension was palatable. Great horror that hasn't aged.
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