Much like the murderous mutant cannibals who stalk the rocky cliffs in the film, The Hills Have Eyes 2 is cretinous, gruesome, and relentless. Of course, those who actually had held out hope that this sequel to Alexandre Aja's commendable but flawed 2006 remake would be any better than the laughable sequel to the original were likely only fooling themselves to begin with. And while that pile of celluloid slop at least took a stab at continuing the original storyline, this hastily assembled stalk-and-slash fiasco simply falls back on the old formula of introducing pretty stereotypes and knocking them off one by one -- and with nary a dog flashback in sight. To deny the impact that Wes Craven has had on contemporary horror cinema would be ignorant; however, it's important to note that while Craven's strongest visions as a director/screenwriter have been iconic (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream), his later efforts in those arenas occasionally leave much to be desired (Cursed, Pulse). While as a filmmaker Craven has proven especially adept at tapping into universal cultural fears, as a screenwriter his attempts to shock have often proven silly and ham-handed. The reason that the "original" Hills Have Eyes movies (both the 1977 film and the 2006 remake) resonated so well with viewers is that they both pitted your typical nuclear family against your decidedly atypical atomic radiation-mutated clan -- the idea of having to band together with your own family in order to avoid being slaughtered and consumed by another family effectively reflected growing Cold War fears back in 1977 and still felt compelling nearly 30 years later. Even if the 2006 remake didn't offer as much distinct characterization in regards to the mutant clan, the political slant injected by screenwriters Aja and Gregory Levasseur was enough to keep things current while being reasonably faithful to the ideas put forth in the 1977 original.
Flash forward just one year later, and all co-screenwriters Wes and Jonathan Craven seem interested in is getting a group of pretty faces up in those hills and dispatching with them in the most brutal (yet strikingly uncreative) ways imaginable. Curiously enough, son Jonathan was also the primary screenwriter for the similarly lame-brained 1995 shocker The Outpost (originally conceived as "The Hills Have Eyes 3") -- which found a group of government scientists locked in an underground bunker with a super-powered mutant. Even back then, the plot for The Outpost seemed tired and all-too-familiar. Now it seems that audiences are being asked not only to lap up regurgitated gruel -- but regurgitated gruel that was originally consumed well after the expiration date. When all is said and done, The Hills Have Eyes 2 certainly delivers if all you're looking for is a generic Friday the 13th clone set on a desert mountainside, yet even viewers who are willing to check their brains at the door are likely to feel cheated when they're handed back their grey matter after the credits roll.