I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting much from this movie when I popped it into the DVD player the other night, and the only reason I was planning on actually watching it was because I had nothing better to do in my new apartment and needed to kill some time before going to bed. Two things were working against the movie in my eyes; first, the title because I felt it was obviously trying too hard to capitalize on the famous The Hills Have Eyes title which usually means the movie itself is somehow lacking; two, the date it was created, because, in my opinion, there really hasn’t been anything good put out recently, especially in the direct to video department. Some may argue this second statement, but if you’ve been following my reviews you will understand that I don’t care much for the ‘torture porn masquerading as horror’ trend that has plagued our wonderful genera these last several years, and pretty much assume anything made lately will fit into that category. I also don’t care for movies that mistakenly think blood and guts induces fear -- revulsion, yes, fear, no -- which just adds to the mounting disappointments the horror label has been generating year after year. So, with these preconceived notions on my mind I prepared myself for a crummy movie and ended up surprised by what I saw. Not surprised because the movie was good, it wasn’t, let’s clear that point up right away, but surprised because the movie wasn’t what I expected, and if it had been executed a little better could have been a pretty decent film.
The story line of The Hills Run Red was somewhat intriguing as it focuses on a film student who goes in search of an 80’s slasher film that was so horrifying when released it was pulled from the public eye right away and never seen again. Wanting to know what it was that made this film so scary the student seeks out the daughter of the director who is conveniently working as a stripper in a nearby gentlemen’s club, and, after breaking her from her heroin addiction, uses her as a guide in finding the backwoods home of her father. Being a film student he also documents this journey, his best friend and girlfriend acting as his film crew (the two are also sleeping together behind his back, and while this could have provided some interesting drama, it never really goes anywhere). At first the trip is nice and the group easily finds the area they are looking for, but then all hell breaks loose starting with some crazy rednecks who want to make an amateur porn flick with the two females (more of a snuff film if you ask me), followed by the ‘baby face’ killer from the movie itself who appears out of nowhere and momentarily saves the day. From there things get worse and worse as the obsessed film student continues toward the director’s house -- while his two friends go for help -- and slowly starts to uncover the truth about the film and its mysterious creator.
Like I said, the movie wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be, yet wasn’t really all that good either. It was well filmed and had an engaging story, but still felt like it was lacking something vital. It also often seemed as if the actors were simply acting as opposed to being real people. I know statements like this sound odd because they are just acting, but when it is done well you kind of forget this is the case for an hour or two and instead view the actors on screen as real individuals, ones who are truly experiencing the horrifying events as they unfold. With this movie this didn’t happen. Most of the people on screen seemed like characters, ones who were always waiting for a cue to begin their lines. The movie also tried to convey a message, one that scolded modern horror films for being overwhelmed with emotionless scenes of torture. Unfortunately the message is somewhat dulled by the fact that the movie itself is filled with such scenes, ones that don’t skimp on the shock factor at all (especially the opening scene), which is something that should have been avoided if the message was to mean anything. It wasn’t, however, and in the end all one gets is another backwoods slasher flick that seems to pride itself on how many buckets of blood it had to use as opposed to how many sleepless nights it created.
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