Revisiting the Hill Pt 2 (The Hills Have Eyes 2, 2007)

The first film was successful enough that they made a sequel. I don’t think that it would be accurate to call this a remake of The Hills Have Eyes Part 2.

This time around we have a script from Wes Craven and his son Jonathan. A new Director was also brought in. Largely a music video Director, Martin Weisz took over for Aja. Music video directors seem to have been a them for horror remakes.

Instead of following the survivors of the previous film, we get an entirely new cast of victims. Centering the threat around a military research camp exploring the crater established in the first film, we see the base get attacked and all its occupants slaughtered. A group of soldiers are sent out to check in, with no idea of what has happened. So when they arrive, they find an abandoned base.

As the soldiers start exploring the surrounding areas they find themselves under assault from an unseen enemy. Eventually, of course, the mutants reveal themselves and it becomes a fight for the soldiers to survive.

The film is pretty intense and exciting, but does add one explanation that was in the original Part Two as well, but more graphically. The mutants refresh their population by capturing women and raping them. This is actually established right at the beginning of the film. Honestly, this is such an uncomfortable thing to show.

The soldiers are mostly a genre mish mash of stereotypes. There is the passive guy, the tough guys, the tough girls, the tough Sergeant (Conveniently nicknamed Sarge). There is a some good interactions between the characters, and honestly, some of them make smart decisions, often being overrode by the tough guys.

This is an okay sequel/remake…and a whole lot more enjoyable than the Hills Have Eyes Part 2.

Oh yeah…by the way…this film has one of the all time great teaser trailers.

So simple…but very effective.

The Hunter or the Hunted? Pt 9 (Predators, 2010)

PRED_B-ALT_Eng1sht (Page 1)After the second film, the Predator series went dormant.  The alien hunters only saw the screen in the “team up” Alien vs Predator films.  It was not until about 2009 Predator was announced as getting it’s own new film.  It was spearheaded by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, Sin City) and was referred to often as a reboot.  The problem with the tendency to treat every film as a remake or reboot is that it is not always clear what a particular entry is.  These days, people tend to refer to a new film in a franchise as a reboot, even when it is in continuity.  Admittedly, it is a little unclear here.  Nothing discounts the previous two films, but they are not really acknowledge in reference (# 2 made reference to the first film).

It does however feature the original Predator design along with a much bigger and more aggressive version.

Anyways, whether this is a new start or simply a new installment is not that important.  What we have is a group of people who find themselves falling from the sky.  They apparently had not planned this themselves.  As things unfold, we find that the most common trait the group has is they are mercenaries, soldiers, mob enforcers and so on.  There is one odd man out named Edwin who is a doctor.  He seems meek (but very smart).  He is played by Topher Grace, so, you know something is up with him.  Adrien Brody plays mercenary Royce.  Royce takes on the role of defacto leader, convincing everyone they need to work together.

After encounters with strange animals, they start to try and find safety, only to realize they are not on earth.  Unlike the previous films, the people being hunted have been dropped onto a planet that functions as a big game hunting preserve.

This does make for an interesting idea, though it is basically a jungle like the first film.  The new Predator design is good, building off the previous design in a way that is sleeker and more threatening.  While the film strives to have lots of surprises, in the end, there is not much new here.  The humans are picked off by the predators in violent and bloody fights.  But it is pretty straight forward action, and pretty predictable.  Frankly, it feels like the franchise may have hit a wall, and truthfully, I don’t know that people will care all that much about it.  The second two films are not strong enough to pretend this is a trilogy.  It is just a decent action film followed by two okay sequels.

Let’s Go Camping Part 11 (Friday the 13th, 2009)

friday-the-13th-remake-poster2009 one of those reboots, much like 2010’s Nightmare on Elm Street.  And, to an extent, you know…maybe a franchise should get a fresh reboot every few years.  But the only fresh thing about the 2009 reboot of Friday the 13th?  They compressed the entire first film into a two minute opening sequence.  It follows the basic trajectory of  a Jason based movie.  No new take.  Just more CW actors, lots of gratuitous nudity of the female variety (unlike the Nightmare reboot, girls drop their tops for things like wake boarding).

Sure, the violence is slicker, the kills a bit more over the top.  But the story is no stronger, the humor falls slatt-uh-flatter…

In rebooting, they basically follow exact same formula.  Campers go out and party, stumble on Jason (or vice versa) and mayhem follows.  It’s the same old story.  Well, except, there are now underground tunnels.

Jason is “smarter” in this film, seeming to make plans and set traps. So, there is that.  The teens, on the other hand, are a mixed bag.  You have the first totally disposable group.  Jason offs them quickly so as to set up the plot of Jared Padelecki from Supernatural (now both leads from that show have a horror remake under their belts) as a concerned brother looking for his missing sister.

He meets up with a group of kids led by the requisite rich jerk that apparently hangs out with people who hate him-but want to take advantage of his awesome cabin conveniently located right on Camp Crystal Lake.  You have the funny black guy, the desperate virgin Asian guy, the hot free spirit, the hot sensitive girl and the hot sex kitten (who is almost indistinguishable from the hot free spirit), the rebel and the rich jerk.

Jared and the rich jerk do not get along-because Rich Jerks do not care about little things like missing and possibly dead family.  But Rich Jerk’s girlfriend-the hot sensitive girl- takes pity on Jared and they go walking through the woods.

Jason has set up shop beneath the old and abandoned camp in tunnels.  Because… why not?  (Real answer: it was a solution by the screenwriters to explain how Jason can just “show up” everywhere)  He has Jared’s sister chained up because…well, we do not really know, there is some indication she looks a lot like Jason’s mom.  So, like any good son, he chains his mother figure up in a cave.  What?  You wouldn’t?

There are a series of random deaths, as Jason works his way through the characters.  Eventually, Jason has whittle the cast down to Jared, Hot Sensitive Girl and Jared’s Sister.  They have a final showdown with Jason and dump him in the lake.  Then it’s time for the Sudden Scare.

The movie never makes any use of it’s potentially interesting aspects.  I mean, why not play around with Jason’s apparent mother fixation on Jared’s sister?  Maybe show Jason trying to be the good but homicidal son?  Not understanding why mommy is displeased with gifts like a human head?

What we are left with is a film that pretty much reinvents the wheel with a glossy finish.  There are kills, weak jokes, predictable jumps points, and zero surprises.  Some of the various sequels took bigger risks than this reboot.

But hey, white supremacist horror movie fans will be relieved to know that non-white people still cannot get out of one of these movies alive.

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