'The Hills Have Eyes II'

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The Hills Have Eyes II
Directed by Martin Weisz
Fox Atomic, now playing
War movie, horror movie—the difference is negligible in the grim sequel to last year's hit remake of Wes Craven's 1977 mutant thriller. After a grisly childbirth and some gory killings, the real action starts with a group of gung-ho National Guardsmen blasting their way through Kandahar. It proves to be a training exercise in the Southwestern desert, thank God, but the troops are being watched by a real menace: the man- eating spawn of 1950s nuclear testing, who have learned a few things about strategery as they lure the soldiers into a killing ground of rocky hiding places and booby-trapped tunnels. Yes, the most assured fighting men are the first to go; yes, the company peacenik (Michael McMillian) will undergo a Straw Dogs conversion to lethal force. Directed by Martin Weisz from a script by Craven and his son Jonathan, the movie has already bummed out the fanboys with its paucity of cool kills—this despite a genuinely unnerving who's-out-there use of shallow focus and a mortality rate in the high double digits. But for anyone other than hardcore gore-hounds, this flipbook of deliberately invoked global-unrest horrors, from friendly-fire killings to rape as a breeding weapon, is effectively mean and unrelenting—and pretty far from fun.
 
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