(2006) dir. Alexandre Aja
French horror director, Alexandre Aja, whose High Tension (2003) caught some attention and praise for its gritty violence and strange take on female power, has hopped the pond, as they say, and has delivered his first American film, a re-make of Wes Craven’s cult film of the exact same name that originally was released in 1977.
I’ve been on a bit of a horror bent lately, interested in this new wave of young horror filmmakers who seem to be leaning heavily toward the gore that was so popular in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and unsurprisingly are even re-making some of those films. My guess is that the name of the film still seems marketable, but for some reason they must think that no one wants to watch the originals because socially they are out of date. I mean why do these remakes? They’re soulless and lack the spontaneity that made the originals so original.
I saw Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes a long time ago and the only thing I really remember is the strange face of Michael Berryman, who didn’t require prostheses to look like a mutant. I don’t necessarily hold the original as any great work of art, but it is an interesting contrast, the nuclear family on vacation that gets stuck in the desert and the other type of “nuclear” family, the ones that mutated as a result of living in the bomb testing area, eating them alive.
There is really your major subtext. Again, the haunted nuclear legacy and its impact on the average American wholesome family unit. It’s a perverse yet simple and poignant commentary. But really this is more so in the time the original was made, during the Cold War when these issues were fresher and the generations hadn’t passed so far from the testing time. The re-make, for its small glimpses at the facades of Americana: the mannequins in the 1950’s style houses all in states of decay and disrepair, the frozen point in time in the gas station, also stuck in the 1950’s, all of this is even further from the time and has seemingly less meaning.
Why make this movie? Why rent it? Well, like I said, I am curious about these “splat pack” as they have been referred to and if any of them have anything valuable to bring to the horror film. It’s a genre that has great potential as it is broad and plays on all kinds of societal fears. But why this film? We may never know.