On one level 2009’s The Hills Run red is not really too bad a bad masked killer movie. The killer is creepy enough and the violence is anything but subdued. The acting is okay and even features William Sadler as the evil film director Wilson Wyler Concannon, whose infamous slasher film The Hills Run Red, has become a thing of myth and the object of a quest by a group of teens. The killer, Babyface, is genuinely freaky and one of the better such evil entities I have seen in a while. But on on another level the film is irritating. In particular I had some issues with the editing style. Often a simple scene of two characters talking is punctuated by sudden loud audio effects and choppy, jumpy scenes of Babyface killing somebody or up to no good in some manner. It is really overdone and this style of editing is more suited to a heavy metal music video I think rather than being injected constantly into a full length film. Some scenes edited like this are appropriate, but it simply over done and there is no reason people cannot watch two or three characters interacting without having to be jolted by brutal audio/video effects. Another issue is that in some scenes the violence becomes a bit too much. I mean I am not against violence but again we get into the whole “torture porn” deal where we have to watch someone slowly and brutally tortured. While this can make you winch and squirm it is not really scary. Not atmospheric or clever in any sense. And we do not expect Fellini here or course, but the film falls back over and over on these editing gimmicks and utterly over the top violence to keep the pace rather than exploring the story more effectively. But then again, it is a standard formula with big city teens going into the remote country side sticking their noses into the business of the local hillbillies and looking for things they should not be and getting more than they bargained for in the end. Some of the issues with this predictable formula are voiced, in an attempt to add some humor to the dark story, by teen character Lalo. But the high-strung teen character voicing his concerns over the group falling prey to slasher film clichés has been done over and over and has itself now become a slasher film cliché.
An interesting point here, and one I began to notice when I review the film Amusement a few posts back, is the use of foreign locales for rural US. The film is shot in Bulgaria and probably used local film crews for some of the work, including set designs and maybe some of the editing and cinematography. Not really sure. The film does not look bad really and there is some talent going on in front of and behind the camera, but ultimately the film is too bleak and violent, lacking any humor or satire, to really enjoy.
Film student Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) is obsessed with locating a compete print of the lost slasher film The Hills Run Red. The film has the dubious reputation of being the scariest movie ever made and was simply too violent and evil to be shown anywhere. All known prints are reported to have been lost, and the whereabouts of filmmaker Concannon (Sadler) are equally unknown. However, with a little research Tyler has discovered that Concannon’s daughter Alexa just happens to working in a titty bar not too far away. Pretty damned convenient, eh? With a little coxing and conniving he manages to convince her to travel with moody girlfriend Serine and sidekick Lalo in the backwoods of wherever they are to possibly locate a copy of the film. The four teens are always arguing with each other. Alexa is a doper and Serine and Lalo have a one night stand that means more to Lalo than cheap slut Serine who has some twinges of guilt but still seems to hate her boyfriend. Why the hell this group ever got together is beyond me. The friction between the characters is grating at times and yet that seems to another norm in newer slasher films. The group of teens are uniformly unlikable and you really don’t care what happens to them.
And things begin happening rather quickly when some of the local hicks decide to show up at their campsite and do some raping and pillaging. Luckliy the actual Babyface character was standing in the bushes just off camera and makes quick and messy work of the yokels. Now Tyler has more than he had ever hoped for in his film research with the appearance of the actual killer of the film. Soon enough of course director Concannon shows up to add more mayhem to the story. We of course know he is going to show up since the character is played by William Sadler and he has to have a little more screen time than he was given at the movie’s beginning. Soon the action becomes confined to a barn, and there is plenty of blood and sexual assaults and one person offing another in one grisly fashion or another. The violence is pretty effective and, as I said before, the Babyface character is fairly convincing. But the film also gets bogged down in debates about filmmaking and how to direct a scene. In the end we have to wonder why a film student worth his weight in salt would become so preoccupied with locating an obscure slasher film (this story line has been done before in films like 2000’s Cut with Molly Rinwald). Does the film have some sort of supernatural power over people who view scenes from it? The ending is a bit strange, or course, and we are left with an impregnated Serine and Alexa as the evil, insane bad girl. Lalo is torture porn fodder and the fate of Tyler is left open for debate. I guess. I didn’t really care myself. The film is worth checking out but more for fans of the slasher/masked freaky killer genre. If you are able to employ some hefty doses of suspension of disbelief and don’t mind seeing people slowly disemboweled, or watching young boys peel bloody flesh from their own faces then you just might enjoy this one.