The Hills Run Red (2009): Red-Blooded Bulgarian..err American Slasher

This marks another underwhelming conclusion to anticipated films of 2009. How dare Netflix (or all of you out there who also had this bad boy on your queue) make me wait months, yes months, to see this?

Just because it’s not a studio horror film, that doesn’t mean The Hills Run Red gets a free pass. Does it have camp? Yes, but does it have heart? No. Does it have story? Yes, but does it have characters? No. Does it have violence? Yes, but does it have action? No. The premise is this: a group of young adults (2 of 3 are reluctant and uninterested however) decide to make a documentary about an infamous filmmaker and his missing horror film. That film, titled “The Hills Run Red,” is a gory slasherpiece, allegedly the scariest movie ever made. However, by the end, the movie within the movie looked far more entertaining than the actual product.

"Hu, hu...we be makin' a movie film!"

My greatest complaint with this movie is its lack of sincerity. It’s too busy imitating horror filmmaking to be its own standalone horror film. Shot in Bulgaria, which we are supposed to believe is in some rural part of the United States, nothing comes to life as real. The characters seem to be nothing more than excuses for sex scenes and instruments to further the plot. Even the locations feel oddly fabricated, as the production design is trying to be discreet with details so as to make it so generic, it effectually takes place nowhere. What the audience receives is cardboard cutouts of reality. One could argue this is intentional, since the whole theme of the movie is centered on the reflexivity of cinema and the blurry line between art and reality. Still, I’m not buying into it, as this theme is pasted on to the ending without a real filmic discussion taking place. It’s pointing fingers—fingers which are spinning around 360 degrees.

Forgetting to turn stealth mode on.

Aside from the thematic issues, The Hills Run Red is simply not exciting. The action is sparse, poorly executed, and far from terrifying. In fact, it feels like the characters are running in slow motion—as their little legs can only carry them as fast as the dolly can move. A little gem of incomprehensibility was found when one of the female characters gets her hair caught in the brush as she’s running from the killer. She has to stop and have her male companion pull her hair out….Come on! If you’re running for your life, strands of hair are not going to hold you back. Trust me, I’m a woman, I know these things. As stated before, the clips shown from the missing film seem way more entertaining, because the film is apparently a continuous murder rampage.

A face only a horror fan would love.

On the bright side, some positive things could be said about the killer: Babyface. The bulky man-child wearing a baby doll face is genuinely creepy looking; even if he is not filmed in ways that capitalize on his appearance. I especially appreciated the gruesome opening of the film, showing a young boy cutting off his own skin, which is later revealed to be Babyface. After the first sequence, I was prepared for a gory ride straight into the fires of Hell…only to be derailed into Flashy-edit-and-cut-away Land. Still, there were some good tongue-in-check moments with Babyface. In particular, my favorite is the single line that he delivers. After watching the lumbering giant walk around silently, we assume, in the grand tradition of slashers, that he does not speak. So when one of our female victims tries to sing him a lullaby, assuming it will calm down the baby in a man’s body, it is surprising when he leans in and calmly says, “You can keep singing if it makes you feel better.” Whoa! That was probably the highlight of the whole film…

"You'll watch the movie and you'll LIKE IT, dammit!"

When you get to the end, you are rewarded with twenty minutes of indulgence in a twist ending that’s not much of a twist. When the credits rolled, I was trying to figure out why this movie has garnered such a positive response from the horror community. Sure, it’s a slasher, but it’s far from the good kind of old-fashioned and far less enjoyable than, say, ANY Friday the 13th film (and I mean ANY). It’s not all bad when it comes to The Hills Run Red, but it’s quite forgettable with outstanding comparables like Hatchet, Wrong Turn 2, or Behind the Mask. If you haven’t seen The Hills Run Red, don’t feel compelled to see it like I did. I’m sure it will disappear from our memories faster than Urban Legend or I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.


  1. Wow this is like the second post I read today on this film, both being bad. I thought it was alright (I reviewed it a few months ago), but I never even heard any hype or had any prior influence going in. My wife and I saw the cover that caught our interest, watched it and thought it was cool. I thought I'd post a positive review about it - had fun with 90 minutes of horror and then totally forgot about it until I started reading these two reviews. So yeah in retrospect it is forgettable and definitely not in my top-20 of 2009 or anything. Funny thing is that I would have never touched it if I knew beforehand that the director also did "Dead Hate the Living". I can't f'n stand that movie!

  2. Totally agree with you here. I watched (and did a quick review) of this a couple of months back, and had the same reaction. It didn't thrill me. It was more 'meh' than anything. Don't know why it got such positive buzz. And it is too bad, cause they could have made Babyface into an interesting serial killer maniac. Ah well.

  3. I had this as #20 on my top 10 list. It had some elements of Hatchet and plenty of Sophia Monk nudity but your right, it was ehhhh.

    It didn't know what it wanted to be? Slasher flick? Self aware horror? exploitation homage?

    Pick one dammit!

  4. Geof-It probably would have intrigued me more had I not been privy to the buzz, even though I try not to let that influence my experience, but it's hard to ignore. I've heard horror stories about Dead Hate the Living...and not the good kind.

    Wings-Meh is definitely the operating response here. All you can say is "Oh well."

    jaded-I can see it being on your list simply because it garnered so much attention. It seems like it deserves some form of recognition. You phrased it so well there with it not knowing what it wanted to be. Well put as always.

  5. I really did no like this flick at all.... yup.

  6. Glad to see I wasn't the only one disappointed by this movie. I also was sucked in by the hype for this movie, and that was why I watched it. It took too long to get going. Just like you, I had high hopes after the boy cut up his face, but that was the only thing interesting until almost half the movie had gone by. i agree that the movie they were looking for seemed more interesting than the actual movie, and they wasted a good character in Babyface.