It's not surprising that The Hills Have Eyes II is arguably more vicious and lurid than its profitable predecessor.
Creator Wes Craven collaborated on the script which isn't too complicated in a slasher movie that is fairly unnerving, even if it all gets a bit murky, more so than something more coherent like The Descent.
Flex Alexander is the supercilious sergeant leading a group of eight rookies from the National Guard. The mission way out in the New Mexico desert is to dispatch supplies to some nuclear researchers. Their destination happens to be somewhat of a ghost town, and a diversion leads to a search in the hills.
The grisly horror-fest, with plenty of Grand Guignol has the deranged, sinister mutants eradicating members of the group in ways that become hard to watch. One senses what they are up to when they eye two women, played with much steeliness and grit by Daniella Alonso and Jessica Stroup.
The Hills Have Eyes II mostly abounds in genre cliches, especially in undeveloped characters played by Lee Thompson Young as the overachiever, Jacob Vargas as a dolt, Michael McMillian as the nerd trying to fit in, and Reshad Strik as the clean-cut guy.
If Craven and German helmer Martin Weisz try to add some interesting strokes here, one might consider how the deceased end up and the armed victims.
The posturing and dialogue is bombastic and overly blantant at various turns, even if the cast is well suited for this gory, boneheaded regiment. The direction works well in the early sections with effective foreshadowing that is to come. Yet, the plotting seems to devolve into an abyss as mineshafts become the setting for gruesome activity.
This brutal, arguably extreme installment gets a bit absurd as those rookies still alive meet a friendly mutant who could have been cast in an X-Men feature. More about dismemberment and division, the warped creativity doesn't really generate genuine shock, though perhaps logical enough for another tale about those affected by atomic bomb testing.