A documentary filmmaker named Tyler and his crew journey to the middle of nowhere in search of the only print of a notorious slasher film called The Hills Run Red. The movie is said to be so reprehensible that it was pulled from theaters almost immediately after its release. Those that did see the picture remember it as being disturbing and shockingly realistic in its depiction of death. All that remains now are a trailer and a handful of production stills. But Tyler is hopeful that if he can track down the director, he may be able to locate the original print of the film.
The fact that The Hills Run Red went direct-to-DVD is a major injustice. There is a stigma associated with films that are unceremoniously dumped on home video. That ill-fated decision has alienated a large portion of this feature’s target audience. I avoided The Hills Run Red for a long time after it was given the direct-to-DVD treatment from the now defunct Warner Premiere. I assumed that it was poorly made or somehow lacking because Warner didn’t have the faith in it to give the film a theatrical bow but that’s not the case. The Hills Run Red is a solid horror film that has never been given its due. It’s one of the most underrated slasher films of the new millennium and it’s a shame that a larger audience hasn’t appreciated it.
The Hills Run Red is directed by Dave Parker (Coldwater) and co-written by David J. Schow (Leatherface), John Carchietta, and John Dombrow. Parker uses unnerving musical cues, well timed scene transitions, and misdirection to keep the viewer alert and engaged. The script is laden with twists and turns that keep the viewer from being able to easily predict who will live, who will die, and so forth. The screenplay is super meta: There is a movie within the movie and the documentarians are making a film about The Hills Run Red. There are also plenty of self-aware remarks as to why stupid characters in slasher films get killed, how to overcome those common pitfalls, and lots more of the like.
Fans of gratuitous nudity and carnage will rejoice after taking in The Hills Run Red. Each of the primary female characters has at least one nude scene and there is a segment that plays out in a strip club with nakedness as far as the eye can see. The carnage is delivered early and often: The deaths are brutal and the bloodshed more than ample. The film dips into ‘torture porn’ territory for a moment but it’s really only so that the filmmakers can comment on their disapproval of the horror genre’s devolution into the masochistic world of pseudo-snuff filmmaking.
All of the performances from the film’s lead characters are acceptable; acting isn’t the picture’s strongest asset but it doesn’t ruin the film, either. Sophie Monk (Life Blood) delivers the weakest performance of the bunch but she is still tolerable.
The Hills Run Red combines elements of the slasher sub-genre with a mysterious backstory and a heavy dose of self-awareness to create an intriguing feature with twists and turns that will keep the audience guessing until the final frame. It is fast paced and thrilling; it defies the conventional horror film tropes and makes its own rules. If you have avoided it as a result of the crappy cover art or because you thought it was a low quality rip-off, then stop. It’s available for dirt cheap on DVD, so there’s no reason not to pick this title up and add it to your collection.
Director(s): Dave Parker
Writer(s): David J. Schow, John Carchietta, and John Dombrow
Stars: Sophie Monk, Tad Hilgenbrink
Studio/ Production Co: Dark Castle, Warner Premiere
Length: 81 Minutes