Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Hills Run Red (2009)

Reviewed By: Billy

About halfway through watching The Hills Run Red, I started having the feeling of déjà vu. Like, everything about it seemed familiar…and not in the usual way that everything seems familiar in straight-to-DVD horror. This time I kept recognizing and predicting elements: odd, bland final girl? Check. Generic, vaguely European locations? Check. Possible accents being (unsuccessfully) hidden by inexperienced actors? Check.

Good God – this movie is Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead.

Seriously, these two movies are eerily similar. Both feature British actors doing their best to convince us they’re red-blooded Americans, and both were filmed in Europe while taking place in backwoods America. Both movies also feature some jaw-droppingly bad CGI death scenes and scripts that make little – if any – sense. And by the way, if you don’t believe me that this is an Eastern European production trying to pass itself off as American, just take a look at these credits:

In short, we should love this movie. But while I at least appreciated the sloppy cheapness of Wrong Turn 3, I was so bored by Hills that I can’t even love it for its half-assed attempts to look big-budget. And I realize that a lot of people on the Internet say this is a really good movie, but there’s a strong chance those people are horny pre-teens who were blinded by the abundance of breasts in the first-half of the movie. Thankfully for you, I am not a reviewer blinded by boobs. Unless they’re hanging off Linda Blair’s chest. Then they’re kind of distracting.

Anyway, the plot here is thin at best: three young filmmakers decide to make a documentary about a “lost” horror classic called The Hills Run Red, directed by some nut named Wilson Wyler Concannon. They track down his daughter, who’s now a junkie stripper, and detox her before making her take them deep into the woods to her father’s home, where they hope to find the original film reels. Making a movie-within-a-movie should have been a slam-dunk here; I mean, it was a perfect opportunity to recreate late-70s era exploitation (which we know can be done…hello, Grindhouse). Unfortunately, the “trailer” for the movie features these two actors, who couldn’t look more contemporary if they were in a Rihanna video:

Alexa Concannon, the director’s daughter, is played by Sophie Monk who – you guessed it from those odd pronunciations – is Australian (!) in real life, and looks like an odd morph of Donna D’Errico, Gina Gershon, and one of the girls dating Hugh Hefner. Playing a junkie stripper means Monk not only gets the chance to show off her ample chest many times – which she does – but the detox scenes give her the opportunity to take us through the “horrors” of withdrawl. And let me tell you, the hilarious montage of her screaming and crying in the shower is almost worth the price of admission.

The other girl in the group is played by Janet Montgomery who – you guessed it from those odd pronunciations – is very British in real life, and also starred in Wrong Turn 3. That I didn’t even bother mentioning her in my review of that movie should pretty much tip you off to the impact she had there, and she’s equally as exciting this time around. Though she barely even registers in the first half of the movie, the good news here is that by the end, Janet gets the chance to start overacting, where she takes irritating to a whole new level. Imagine Scout Taylor-Compton in Halloween crossed with Brittany Snow in Prom Night, and you pretty much get the idea of how effective Janet Montgomery is as a heroine:

Anyway, in a twist that is as unsurprising as it is stupid, it turns out Wilson Wyler Concannon is still alive, and he and his daughter purposely lured the kids out so that they could continue making The Hills Run Red, which wasn’t a horror movie all along, but an actual film of people being killed. William Sadler plays Concannon, and seems to be totally basing his performance on Gary Busey. The actual killer is called Babyface, and turns out to be the daughter of Concannon and his daughter…thus, it’s an incest monster. Now, you know that I usually love incest monsters in movies, and I do kind of like the way Babyface looks. But because he’s only one of three killers in this movie (the other two being his parents), he actually doesn’t do that much, and therefore is just kind of superfluous. And this, my friends, is a huge mistake. I mean, would Michael Myers ever allow himself to be superfluous in a Halloween movie? Well…at least in one not directed by Rob Zombie?

Anyway, what else can I say? I wanted to like this movie, but I didn’t really. It just made me want to watch something that didn’t try so hard…something like Urban Legends: Final Cut, which is another horror movie-about-horror movies, but doesn’t even attempt to try to be smart or slick. I mean, come on…UL2 gave us the Hitchcock Award. Maybe that’s what this movie is missing: a Hitchcock Award, or something as equally stupid. Instead, it’s just kind of a bland hour and a half. In other words, it gets an Eli Roth Award.



  1. Great review. I felt the exact same. This movie has been totaly overhyped. And I love it how everyone acted 'surpised' that they were betrayed by a heroin addicted stripper!

  2. Ugh, I didn't like this movie at all. It just seemed so derivative and cliched (the whole incest subplot-I mean, really guys?). This movie and "Hatchet" were letdowns, especially after they'd both been talked up so much. Oh and speaking of the credits, "Georgi" must be a really common first name in Eastern Europe or something =)

  3. Yup, just watched this last night and yeah...glad I wasn't expecting too much from this. The Snow/Taylor-Compton thing is spot on.

  4. Yup the movie was overhyped but *gasp* I'll admit I found it tolerable soothed by the fact that I kept seeing Sophie Monk naked every 10 minutes.

    Typical slasher flick but somehow it grew on me while watching.

  5. The tits were enough for me to, ummm, remember the tits.

    Noticed you guys haven't reviewed 1988's THE BLOB yet. I plan on re-watching that this weekend.

  6. The premise of this movie sounds so chock full of premise-promise, I'm amazed that they were able to fuck it up; yet I really shouldn't be. When people were making these flicks in the 70s, there was no real template and thus the best (?) examples tended to have this wild creativity and sense of the filmmakers really being out on a limb with their personal obsessions and psychoses in full display. The ones being made today are not people following their own weird creativity and mental disturbance, but people imitating other people who were imitating others who did that. They're like copies of copies of copies of bootleg Cinderella concert tapes--so far removed from the original, so dilute, they lose all the punch. :P

    And that Babyface image looks suspiciously like the killer mask from BASEMENT JACK, which I'm prepared to say is a superior movie to this one even without having seen THRR.

  7. Billy-

    According to Wikipedia, Sophie Monk is an "...English-Australian pop singer, actress and model". Pop singer goes topless in a horror movie.... hmmm... it was a solid career movie for Vitamin C. Right?

    Are you going to go ahead and buy the album?


  8. I was mostly unimpressed with Sophie Monk (better tits abound on the internet; tits won't get a movie any sort of special consideration from me) and while there were a few bits & pieces of this that I didn't dislike, I found it to be a much more tepid, uninteresting, & ultimately forgettable entry than all of the hype had suggested. Glad you saw through all the b.s. on this one, too. Good call.

  9. I'm glad and surprised that so many agree with me on this one...I had a feeling people were really gonna like this movie, and I'd feel like a jerk for not liking it very much.

    As for JM -- perhaps the album could be a BIRTHDAY PRESENT considering it's my birthday this week. OR DID YOU FORGET AGAIN THIS YEAR???