Spoiler Alert: This film is spoiled like a road trip bologna sandwich left on the dashboard in the desert sun.
I'm patient with a movie, if the payoff is right. I'll sit through seemingly endless exposition, if it builds sympathy for characters battling forces beyond their control. Flicks like House of Wax, with obnoxious, hateworthy protagonists, inspire bored glee, not terror. Others, like Caché, which includes one second of violence more shocking and terrifying than anything from the Gruesome School, are worth the wait, even if the payoff is ultimately frustrating.
The Hills Have Eyes, another dull remake of a lesser film, tries to ablute its sins in a bath of blood. And the sins are plenty. When the best character is killed first, and the most grating and stupid one is left to carry the plot... When the pacing is slow, then slower, and then slow again, building to a gigantic nothing... When every scene is telegraphed minutes ahead, and seems cribbed from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre playbook.... When even the "twist" ending comes as a stultifying non-surprise.... you have a mediocre blah-fest suitable for fans of hokum like Emily Rose.
The pluses, and they're few, involve visuals. The desert is both open and constricting, and heat radiates from the screen. Interior shots are suitably dark and greenish. Special effects are flawless, even if forgettable. But that's it. No new ground broken, no iconic images.
Last, a word about the (French) director's political why-do-they-hate-us subtext. (It involves newspaper headlines, Ripleysesque medical photos, and a memorable use of Old Glory.) Some critics have suggested that the film vilifies Red Staters. This may be true, but the Blue State representative, the wimpy dolt who becomes the reluctant hero, has to adopt a Bush/Cheney methodology to save his family, packing a gun or an ax when suitable. Red and Blue bleed the same blood, copiously, in The Hills Have Eyes.
Don't bother yours.