Tapping into the nerve-core of horror - the visceral urge to survive and protect our own - the film serves up the requisite axe-in-head moments. Hard though to tell if the soft-edging - a swelling score and a mutant who saves the baby - is jokey or not. Less grisly or scary than Switchblade, Hills is a horror homage updated with CGI and eco trappings. Impressive make-up is the strongest and creepiest card and a fight in the mutants' lair is brilliantly shot, edge of seat stuff. Even the family doggie bites back. And while acting takes second place to agony, top marks are still due to the family’s teenage son, displaying both terror and the cool-headedness of a bomb-rigging revenge.
The teeny stalky slasher pics of the 80s and 90s collapsed into the self-referential parodies of Scream, Scary Movie and its sequels. The Hills Have Eyes is part of the new ‘back to the 70s’ trend of exploitation shockers. Along with Wolf Creek, Hostel and Saw, it homes in on the details of violent body-horror. But while the 70s could produce visceral visions of philosophical proportions (Cronenberg’s Shivers), The Hills Have Eyes is purely physical. One for blood-stained anoraks, it’s true to its source, serving up a series of squirmy set-pieces.