Big question: A family's car breaks down in the desert, which happens to be populated with radiation-deformed murderers. Why do movie dads always have to take the scenic route?
Catch it: Produced by Wes Craven, "The Hills Have Eyes" is an entertaining update of Craven's 1977 flick of the same name. Director Alexandre Aja helps things go from bad to worse with an escalating sense of terror and violent, special effects-enhanced deaths.
Skip it if: Seeing a human ear in a take-out container will forever turn you off of ordering for carryout.
Bottom line: "The Hills Have Eyes" is the rare horror film that doesn't simply dispatch its victims with sadistic delight. Though the film starts slowly and grows repetitive towards its bloody finale, strong performances -- particularly from Emilie de Ravin of "Lost" and Dan Byrd -- make this a family you actually hope survives.
Bonus: One of the deformed killers bites off the head of a live bird. It's good to see cannibalistic maniacs are taking culinary advice from Ozzy Osbourne.
'The Hills Have Eyes'
Directed by Alexandre Aja; screenplay by Aja and Gregory Levasseur, based on Wes Craven's 1977 screenplay; cinematography by Maxime Alexandre; production design by Joseph Nemec III; music by Tomandandy; edited by Baxter ; produced by Craven, Marianne Maddalena and Peter Locke. A Fox Searchlight Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:45. MPAA rating: R (for strong gruesome violence and terror throughout, and for language).
Big Bob Carter - Ted Levine
Ethel Carter - Kathleen Quinlan
Lynn - Vinessa Shaw
Brenda - Emilie De Ravin
Doug - Aaron Stanford
Lizard - Robert Joy
Papa Jupiter - Billy Drago