The Hills Run Red, sadly, has almost nothing going for it or to recommend it. Its a combination of the worst elements of the latest genre of horror filmmaking and not a very well put together combination of them either. The story, if it can be called that, follows four young adults who’ve set off to make a docudrama about an obscure, unfinished horror films called The Hills Run Red. Along the way they encounter citizens of a small town where the original film was made and, of course, trouble follows.
What happens during this film can be best described as a mismatched, cliched unfolding of coincidental and needlessly violent and bloody events that taken as a whole, signify almost nothing. Usually, at least in the better films of this genre, you hope the audience feels some empathy or, at the very least, pity for the poor characters trapped in this scenario. Or, as in the case of the recent Zombieland, the film has other things in it favor such as humor. Unfortunately, because the characters in the film are developed so haphazardly and so poorly and there’s basically nothing much here in other areas, I felt nothing for them and was not the least bit concerned as they met their individual demises.
In fact, most of their actions in the film were patently stupid in so many ways, they probably deserved what they got — at least in the context of the film. One of my biggest pet peeves is stupid characters in movies who do stupid things that no real person would ever do. As an example, if someone calls and tells you the disturbing phone calls are coming from inside the house, you don’t go upstairs to check. Or, if you hear an odd noise on a dark and stormy night, you probably shouldn’t go and investigate.
Sure, there’s exceptions to this and also in many cases you need to suspend your disbelief to keep the story going, but for this film, that was a very tall order. Whatever thoughts the filmmakers were thinking when making this movie, logic and common sense were obviously not among them — which is one of the few things that does come across clearly with this film.
Most of the story’s plot points are telegraphed well in advance with characters making decisions and going into different directions with seemingly no motivation. Elements of character’s behavior is developed, albeit ever so slightly, and then those points are abandoned later in the film when convenient. On top of that, the direction is mostly amateurish with very little style or innovation to it. Of course, I realize the time and budget constraints when making a movie like this, so I do tend to give points for at least attempting to do something interesting, which director Dave Parker does at least try to do in a few instances.
I will also make note of the cinematography by Ilan Rosenberg, who manages to make the film look pretty good given the schedule and budget he had to work with. Also, another bright spot in the film is singer now actress Sophie Monk who, somewhat surprisingly, can actually act. She manages to convey some level of emotion and depth of character even though she’s without clothing for many scenes of the film. Her performance stands out considerably, not just when compared to the rest, and I feel strongly we’ll see her again in future films.
Of course, given the budget of this film it would be easy to dismiss its many flaws due to its meager funding, lack of time, etc. However, that would be a disservice to other low budget efforts such as Paranormal Activity, Session 9, the first Saw and even The Blair Witch project. I really wanted to like this film a lot more because I’m a fan of low budget horror films and I tend to root for the underdog. I just wish the filmmakers had given me something more to work with here.
Still, if you’re a fan of horror films, don’t particularly care for story or character development but do like to see one or two decent performances and like a movie that looks good but really isn’t all that good, perhaps The Hills Run Red is worth checking out. For the rest of you, spend your time with a different, much better film such as The Descent, Saw, 28 Days Later, The Ring, Paranormal Activity, The Collector or even Drag Me to Hell.