Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – The Hills Run Red (2009)

My notes on The Hills Run Red (2009)

A knowing, gruesome, generally effective entry in the current bound-and-tortured sub-genre of horror (it’s tempting to credit veteran splatterpunk author David J. Schow, who contributed to the script, with the cleverer touches). Film student Tyler (Tad Hilgenbrink) is obsessed with The Hills Run Red, a legendarily withdrawn and lost 1980s splatter epic made by a reclusive genius (William Sadler), and trying to make a documentary about it, which leads him to track down the madman’s daughter Alexa (Sophie Monk), a lap-dancing junkie who will only help if he sleeps with her and then seems to clean up and become mildly perky on the road trip to the Hills locations Tyler takes with his girlfriend Serina (Janet Montgomery) and sidekick Lalo (Alex Wyndham), who have balanced his liaison with Alexa by having one-time sex. In a Blair Witchy sequence, the kids interview some locals about the film which was once shot on their turf – then venture deeper into the woods, finding the locale where a major death scene was staged (apparently for real), and being menaced by the Deliverance-type loons who want to use their film equipment to make a rape porno but get quickly killed off by Babyface, the mutilated/masked killer from the film (he has sewn a doll’s face over his own mangled features), who turns out to be the director’s son by his daughter (as hinted at, she’s in on it from the start, luring victims her family’s way). It turns out that the family still have The Hills Run Red in production, and these newcomers are due to suffer on camera for it – though there’s also dissent among the filmmakers, which adds to the gore.

It has a certain Screamlike attitude, with dialogue foregrounding the conventions and then plot turns that trump the objections: Lalo complains that potential victims never take guns with them and go beyond cellphone range, only for his own gun to be taken away by baddies and the fact that they can get cell reception turns out to be useless when they can’t tell the 911 operator where they actually are in the woods as the maniac is chasing them through; Alexa tries that old Friday the 13th gambit of crooning a lullaby to the childlike monster hulk abusing (and, as it turns out, impregnating – one of my least favourite 2005-15-era overused horror film tropes) her, only for him to deliver one chilling line (‘keep singing if it makes you feel better’) that reveals he’s a calculating bastard rather than an instinctive imbecile (though this isn’t then followed up on); and there’s a revision of the old Peeping Tom business of film obsession, voyeurism and murder being interconnected as we see how a mad auteur becomes committed to snuff. Filmed in Bulgaria, with a number of British actors doing okay yank accents. Directed by Dave Parker (The Dead Hate the Living); written by John Carchietta, John Dombrow and Schow.


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