It is their final day of desert training ops when a half-dozen impossibly good-looking, totally interchangeable National Guard recruits find themselves pitted against an angry army of impossibly ugly, totally interchangeable murderous mutants.
The threadbare tale follows the same inbred family of beasts (actor Michael Bailey Smith returns from the first remake) that were spawned from 1950s nuclear testing somewhere out in the New Mexico desert — basically they're still unsightly, hungry, horny, and really, really ticked off at mankind. Whenever they see human beings, the KNB-created creatures must either 1) Consume them, and/or 2) Mate with them.
Neither of the above two prospects sits too well with our troop of cannon fodder, so the stalk-and-slop begins and then continues for about an hour and half until there's a "final girl". No surprises here, but for those who like this sort of thing there are some really good makeup effects, gory ooze, and raw meat. The movie is directed by music-video vet Martin Weisz, and the mutant's toenails are apparently by Barnum & Bailey.
Wes Craven and his son Jonathan co-wrote the story for this sequel to Alexandre Aja's recent remake of Craven's 1977 original, but they must have used the paint-by-numbers method for scripting because aside from a attention-grabbing opening sequence (which isn't necessarily a good thing), the movie is basically an assembly-line of gruesome kills. It's impossible to feel sympathy for either the predators (they're insane; victims of their circumstance) or the prey (they have no choice but to kill, to save their own lives) — not to mention impossible to focus on the screen due to the overuse of shaky-cam and the jarring motion effects added in post-production.
The unrated DVD does not include a commentary track, but there are four deleted scenes (adding up to around three merciless minutes), an alternate ending and a gag (take that literally) reel. If you're still feeling the need for answers to this mushy mess, you can watch the short series of featurettes: Mutant Attacks; Birth of a Graphic Novel; Exploring the Hills: Making of 'The Hills Have Eyes 2'; and Fox Movie Channel Presents: Life After Film School with Wes Craven.
Let's just say there are no "peaks and valleys" in these Hills.
= = =Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson