3.13.2006

The Hills Have Guys


OK, so I liked the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. As remakes go, it's not as good as Dawn of the Dead, but still pretty good.

Altho I hafta admit I have a weakness for this movie. I saw the original when I was 11 on a double-feature with Texas Chain Saw Massacre at a drive-in outside Galveston, Texas, sitting in the front seat of a pickup truck with my Mom and her boyfriend. Oh, and I had a massive contact high going on. So the movie scared the CRAP out of me.

So just watching the same narrative unfold in the remake last night had me freakin' out. The first half of the movie is great. Kathleen Quinlan, as the mom, rawks. The woman from LOST is pretty good, too. The young son is totally Edward Furlong's lost baby brother, but a better actor.

Quibbles: Music's too intrusive. Some fave moments missing from the original (the CB pysch-out, rocking the trailer). WAY too much exposition (Nuke test mutants, we get it, OK? The backstory gets repeated like a half-dozen times, plus shown over the opening credits, etc.)

Most interesting was the way the movie deals with different types of masculinity. ('Scuse me while I slip into grad student mode.)

The Dad is a red-state buffoon: arrogant, gun-toting, insulting to his son-in-law, disrespectful to his wife's religion, ex-cop, etc. Control queen. (They drive across country instead of flying because "they wouldn't let him fly the plane.")

But he's tough, whereas Democrat, pacifist, cell-phone salesman, and, I might add, JEW, son-in-law is ineffectual and kind of, well, bitchy.

Unformed, or triangulated between them, is the son, Eddie Furlong Jr. We don't know how he's going to turn out, but he seems at first prepared to follow in Dad's footsteps.

Well, things don't go so well for Dad. And Son-in-Law becomes the protagonist -- his embrace of violence transforms him into a proper man -- this we can deduce from the almost absurdly swelling triumphant music that occurs when he "accepts" the violent side of his masculinity. However, it's not so simple as he crosses over to the Dad's side. Whereas Dad is just shown as a prick, Mensch-in-Law's conversion is motivated by protecting his family. So whereas Dad seems to be operating out of arrogance and ego, the more idealized man is shown to be someone who doesn't flee from violence or aggression, but uses them responsibility, out of love and protection for his family.

Junior observes this and seems to look to his brother-in-law as a new father figure by the movie's end.

There's an interesting thing on technology in the movie, too -- digital technology like cellphones are worthless, but analog, Rube-Goldbergish, mechanical solutions are crucial for protecting the family. Reminded me a bit of the same digital/mechanical contrast in the Final Destination movies.

1 comment:

  1. great post.
    i went (by myself... ted doesn't like scary movies) to see THHE because I too was scared shitless by the original.

    Didn't a pregnant woman get shot in the original too? Or am I imagining it?

    I agree that the sense of menace wasn't as great in this film (at least not in the first hour as it was in the original--with the trailer rocking, etc.)

    Did you know the little girl who plays Ruby is the cheerleader in those phone commercials (the one where she talks forever because she has unlimited minutes)? it's her!

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