The Hills Have Eyes (2006)
Big Bob (Ted Levine) and his wife Ethel (Kathleen Quinlan) have packed up their family for a drive to California to celebrate their anniversary. Their kids include little Bob (Dan Byrd), Brenda (Emilie de Ravin) and Lynn (Vinessa Shaw) and her husband Doug (Aaron Stanford) and their infant daughter Catherine. Stopping at a ramshackle gas station in the middle of nowhere, the creepy owner tells Big Bob of a short cut through the desert that will cut a couple of hours off their trip. He decides to go for it.
The trouble begins when their truck, which is hauling a large RV, runs over a line of spikes that have been deliberately set. The axle is bent beyond any simple repair. To compound their problems, there is no cell reception. Big Bob tells Doug that the two of them will head out, Bob back to the gas station, Doug ahead to the highway. Little do they know that there are people in these hills, and they are far from friendly.
This film is a remake of the 1978 version, which I reviewed previously (SIHD #14). While Wes Craven is credited as a writer, due to the first film, this one has a different director and writers. It's the same characters, same scenario, but updated, and with an actual explanation of this mutant family in the desert. At the beginning of the movie, we learn about nuclear tests performed in New Mexico, with uncertainty regarding genetic effects. Well, I'm here to tell you, they aren't pretty.
During the COVID lockdown, six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom. Jemma (Jemma Moore) decides to prank her friends with a fake story about a boy she knew who allegedly committed suicide. Little does she realize that by disrespecting the spirits, she has unintentionally invited in a random spirit. Whether good or evil remains to be seen.
This is the first film I've seen that actually is set during the pandemic. I'm sure there will be more to follow, and books as well. This one is rather realistic looking, as the friends all gather on their laptops on Zoom, with the usual Internet mishaps and foibles. Freezing in place, losing the Internet... all things we've seen before and can relate to.
At first, some of the friends take the séance more seriously than others, as is obvious by Jemma's ill-timed prank. The medium finds herself without Internet so they go on without her guidance. But then strange things begin to happen, and little by little everything falls apart.
The dialogue is realistic, and a portion of it is actually improvised, which also lends to the air of reality.
There is a definite scary vibe to this film as everyone tries to grapple with what is happening. I absolutely love the tagline: Someone new has joined the meeting. How perfect is that?
This film is a Shudder original, and I think it was well done. I have a subscription to Shudder. If you enjoy horror films, I recommend them. They have classic horror films as well as newer ones, and some you've probably never even heard. I give Host a solid 4 stars.