Starring: Susan Lanier, Robert Huston, Martin Speer, Dee Wallace-Stone
Director: Wes Craven
An average suburban family, the Carters, are heading up to California when they take a wrong turn trying to find a silver mine that they recently inherited. Though warned by a shady gas station owner about the area and where they’re headed, their arrogance and over confidence lead them into the territory of another family. One that lives in the hills, eats people, and are all way too closely related.
Some people feel that this film, with it’s low budget styling and obvious shock tactics, is one of Wes Craven’s more overlooked films. It’s not as slick as Scream and doesn’t follow the typical teen slasher stereo type that’s a perrenial horror favourite, and that Craven could do so well. And yet, if you look below the surface, there’s plenty of meaning to be had in this film. One white family, with suburban ideals, one outcast family with … well, no ideals perhaps, but both are engaged in the struggle to survive in a harsh landscape. It’s been likened to the class struggle in America, which is an interesting way to look at this film. On the one hand, you have the acceptable family with their not always Christian values, and then you have the frightening underclass who might want to overthrow and devour their oppressors, and who can’t afford to have values.
But to look at it another way, it’s kind of an out there, grotesque film too. I mean, people are raped and cannibalised in this film. They’re out in the middle of nowhere, and it seems that even though they pray, even God can’t help them out in that bleak frontier. And it manages to evoke all this opressive doom and threat of violence (as well as actual violence of course) with minimal budget and with it’s own raw camera style.
It’s not always an easy watch, but it’s a really intense, dark and interesting horror film, and thus has had several sequels and remakes of it’s own. My point is that whether you’re looking for meaning or whether you’re just out to have the pants scared off you, it’s a film that really gets under your skin.
See It If: you’ve ever felt that family holidays are hell. It’s maybe a little dark for some, but a must for horror lovers and Wes Craven fans.