Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review - The Hills Run Red

A twenty something has become infatuated with a 1980's cult horror film named The Hills Run Red, which has all but vanished except for a trailer and a few stills. The student with the help of his two friends decides to make a documentary about trying to find a print of the original cult film. After locating the only living actress apart of the cult film, the group persuades her to lead them to the director's old cabin where the movie was filmed in hopes of finding a print of the film. Once there the group find much more than they anticipated.

I have been intrigued for "The Hills Run Red" since Comic Con 2007, when I saw the first panel for the film. Since then I haven't heard too much from the direct-to-dvd horror, but remained optimistic that it could be a solid slasher. I was wrong, "The Hills Run Red" has a great setup and slowly as the film progresses all of the back story and intrigue fall by the wayside. The third act and the finale are actually so bad, it ruined all of the solid setup the film did in the first two acts.

I can't blame director Dave Parker for the faults of "The Hills Run Red" instead the blame can be placed on the writing team of John Carchietta and John Dombrow, who really should have taken this film to a different place. The story is overtly predictable and as characters are introduced, you easily know where their character development will go. Every twist in the horror is also utterly predictable, which only makes the viewer hope that the story isn't really going where you know it is. In the end, there is nothing in "The Hills Run Red" that you haven't seen before in other slasher films and what is worse, you've seen it done much better.

One thing I did enjoy the idea of was the killer, Babyface. His concept and back story was pretty cool (especially the wicked opening). The porcelain doll face attached to his face was also pretty damn eerie. That said, both Raicho Vasilev and Danko Jordanov do a pretty bland job of playing him. Sure people can bicker that it is hard to convey a whole lot of emotion through a mask, but I say, tell that to Jason Vorhees, Leatherface, Michael Myers, Leslie Vernon and other masked killers before Babyface that have done so well. Babyface feels like a hodge-podge of Leatherface and Jason Vorhees mixed together, however his character does become a convoluted mess with other iconic horror personalities thrown in (but I will let you discover those for yourself).

"The Hills Run Red" does have some solid pacing and creates a tense mood initially, but by the third act, the viewer is instead trying to keep from picking apart the movie rather than being frightened. The kills also are what you would expect from a R rated horror, but none of them push the boundaries in any way considering the luster that is built up through the back story of the original cult film. What makes "The Hills Run Red" so disappointing is that it had the potential to be a lot of fun. The back story of the original cult film that vanished without a trace was a cool spin, but the execution of finding the film and it's history was simply inferior or did not live up to the hype.

The performances here are also nothing to praise. Tad Hilgenbrink does a decent job in the lead role, who is determined to make a documentary on the original film. William Sadler provides an enjoyable performance as the director of the original cult film, but his performance is dragged down by terrible character development in the script. Sophie Monk who seemed cast only to provide some skin, is irksome in her role as Alexa and in retrospect, I found myself completely uninterested in her predictable character. Alex Wyndham and Janet Montgomery weren't given much to do as Tyler's friends Lalo and Serina leaving their characters quickly forgotten.

Overall "The Hills Run Red" did not seize the opportunity to be a really great horror flick. It had the makings to be a great spin on icon horror, but in the end, was a just a letdown. I can see now why Warner put this film on a straight-to-dvd release, because It really does not deserve a theatrical run.