Do all American horror films have to have characters doing stupid things that get them killed (with the possible exception of George A. Romero zombie flicks)? It's hard to sympathize with characters who bring their grisly, bloody deaths upon themselves for their lack of common sense. Before you argue simple loss of wits due to the circumstances, watch the film first and then try to justify their actions. This isn't a problem with most Asian horror films; the characters don't have to be dumb to raise the tension of a scene. In the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, it's a rule to waste bullets and shelter for senseless action. You know there's something wrong when the dog seems to be the smartest character in the film.
And please, enough of the cheap jolts of surprise. "Oh look, you thought it was a hungry mutant but it was just your brother!" Any film that has to depend on a surprise every five or so sequences has strayed into overkill territory, and completely lacks subtlety. The occasional jolter would be fine.
A note about the score: it's creepy when it has to be, but when it tries to highlight the triumphs of the film's protagonists, it's painful and cringe-worthy. It has got to be the cheesiest, most annoying piece of scoring that I've heard since Vangelis's work on Alexander.
I have yet to see the original by Wes Craven, which is widely considered to be a classic in the genre. If it's anything like this remake, I'm not interested in seeing it. The only saving grace of this film is that when it needs to be scary, it can deliver. For that, and all right, for Kathleen Quinlan's effective performance, I give this film: Grade: D.