If you’re going to make a genre movie, or a sequel to a remake of a genre movie whilst going out of your way to avoid cliches, you’ve got an uphill struggle ahead of you. If you’re Wes Craven, you don’t need to avoid cliches, as you invented the cliches in the first place. If you’re a little-heard-of Director tasked with following up a zombie movie which itself avoided a few of the usual trappings then what do you do to make your new movie relevant? That’s it, you try and comment (with bloody heavy hands) on today’s political climate.
All the critics seem to disagree with me when it comes to horror films, so balls to them in their Islington and nouveau-Hackney homes, pumping out a word an hour of drivel. With these movies a viewer needs to automatically lower their expectations to the level of their stinking feet, otherwise disappointment will generally smack them headlong in the face.
The fun of a horror film is that it’s the opposite of high art. Very few horror movies can be said to be masterpieces. Maybe The Shining. Maybe Night of the Living Dead. American Werewolf In London, but in that instance we’re veering towards horror/comedy, which is a different kettle of fish. Beyond that, it’s pretty much semi-wooden acting, jumps and gore, and thank crikey for that, says I.
So the critics savaged Hills Have Eyes 2. Hackneyed scripts they said. Expected shocks. And these things, they reckoned, combined to render it worthless. Only one or two stars. 11% on rottentomatoes.com.
Well, bollocks. It’s a no-nonsense stomp through a script that’s only even present to transfer us to the next set piece. And those set pieces include a pair of mutant testicles getting flattened by a sledgehammer, a brain being finger-tweaked and an eyeball being thumbed out – which is all fantastic stuff. This is the point of the genre. Admittedly the rape element is a bit much, but we forgave the EvilDead for that, so we can forgive this.
If an auteur (like Romero used to be) manages to squeeze in a clever analogy to a horror film, then so much the better – I take my hat off. But when the central premise is the analogy, a la Land of the Dead, the whole things fall apart and we’re left discussing how there were too few zombie maimings.
Speaking of a dearth of zombie maimings, the only memorable zombie death in 28 Weeks Later was the helicopter scene, ruined by the use of rapid editing and CGI.
Add to that the fact that the film was a complete mess, featuring an American army as aggressive as the zombies (apart from the good guys who end up the saviours of the Brits, obviously) and the presence of a ‘lead’ zombie, and you have yourself a disappointing wreck.
If I rent a horror film or spend my hard earned down the local multiplex, I expect rubbish. Please deliver.