I saw The Hills Have Eyes for a second time last night. In addition to me enjoying the film even more (thanks in no small part to the fact that it was at a superior theater with a sound system that is chest crushing and that I wasn’t in the first row breaking my neck), I had the distinct pleasure of watching several couples leave the theater after the first trailer attack (which I think is the strongest sequence in the film and couldn’t possibly be improved upon).
Between Friday night’s and Saturday’s showings, I witnessed at least 18 couples dropping out (there were more Friday night) roughly half way into the run time. I’ve never, ever seen that happen before. No other horror film I’ve been to theatrically – good or bad, Blair Witch shakiness included – has had that effect on people. That is clout. That isn’t like those bogus reports about people throwing up or fainting during Hostel (Hah to that!). That is real proof of the iron fist Aja and co wield. The Hills Have Eyes isn’t fucking around. Alexandre Aja is playing for keeps and you’ve got to respect that.