I don’t know…maybe it’s just me, but I’d never think to call 911 if I didn’t know where I was. I mean, if it’s from a land line, no biggie, but from a cell phone? That just seems pointless. Yet it happens so often in movies.
Oh well, I digress…by the way, MILD SPOILERS for anyone still planning on seeing this flick.
King of the Hill (released Jan 20 by Dimension Extreme) comes to us from Spain, who’ve actually had a pretty decent horror output lately. They seem to be really good about managing the scares of Asian horror without having quite the gore that comes with French horror (I’ll never forgive anyone who’s given a positive review to Inside…jeez what a horrible film).
Still, Dimension Extreme has had a spotty output at best. Looking at their website, I see a total of 3 films (out of 31) that I can actually say are good films (Nightmare Detective, Eden Lake, The Wizard of Gore). And no, they don’t get credit for re-releasing Night of the Living Dead. So I was a little cautious about checking out King of the Hill, a film I’ve heard next to NOTHING about (although, to be fair, we hardly ever hear about Spanish horror here in the states before it’s released).
How did King of the Hill stack up?
So…it starts out with the lead guy, Quinn, seeing a girl, Bea, steal a candy bar at a gas station. The men’s room is out of order, so somehow it occurs to him to go pee in the occupied women’s restroom (he doesn’t flush either) before having sex with the shoplifter. At first I figured there was more of a story there, that they knew each other from someplace else, but it’s pretty firmly established later on that that was their first meeting. Note to self: pee in the women’s restroom from now on.
Quinn and Bea both have their cars incapacitated by a rogue sniper, and escape into the nearby woods. I’ve been seeing a trend lately in horror films where the guy in the film is essentially useless. To Let, Eden Lake, and now this one. In a scene where they are stuck in a police car while a madman shoots the police officers, Quinn cowers on the floorboards of the car crying while Bea manages to free herself, go outside, get to the front seat, and hot wire the car. When she goes to free him from his handcuffs, he yells at her. He even yells at her later on for having sex with him in the bathroom! At one point in the film, he even decides to leave her behind and make a break for himself! He comes back, but still. This guy really is a loser.
For a film where people are being hunted by a sniper, they sure don’t take cover a lot. Shouldn’t they be walking behind trees, hiding behind bushes for the entire thing?
I think what hurts King of the Hill is its utter lack of a hero or a villain for most of its running time. The protagonist is completely unlikable and, compared to Eden Lake, where a couple was stalked in the woods by some vicious little teenagers, Hill has a couple of snipers for the antagonists. What it boils down to, essentially, is people walking around the woods, eventually hearing a gunshot out of nowhere, and either someone gets shot, or a tire goes flat, or a tree splinters…rinse, repeat. I understand keeping the villain mysterious – we all like our villains mysterious, but by not even seeing them, I think we lose a lot of the impact that goes with a cat-and-mouse game like this. Don’t get me wrong, snipers are scary, but I think a film more about the fear a town felt from a sniper serial killer would be more interesting than a film about two people walking through the woods, hearing gunshots every couple of minutes. It’s not until over an hour into the film that we see the snipers, and it’s a pretty cool little twist, but something I’ve already seen in better films lately. In fact, it’s pretty common in a lot of horror films lately. It helps the film, but doesn’t quite save it. Had the twist come…say, twenty minutes in, it might have been better, but I’m still not sure I would have enjoyed it in the end.
The film completely changes point of view for the last fifteen minutes or so to the killers’. It’s kind of a jarring transition though, and it takes the suspense out of the climax of the film.
In this final part of the film, it finally develops its point – preaching about violent media’s affect on children, even going so far as to have POV shots similar to those in a first person shooter, like Call of Duty. Seriously. A violent horror film is preaching about violent video games.
The box for King of the Hill says a lot of great things about it, which means that someone liked it. Still, I know they can’t put things like “A bore!” or “Really?” on the cover of a box and expect people to buy the movie.
Paul Awesomeness Score: 4 out of 10 (just skip it)
Still wanna buy it despite the review? It’s on Amazon right now for $17.99.