As with 2003’s remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Alejandre Aja’s update of Wes Craven’s 1977 The Hills Have Eyes exhibits more technical proficiency, and piles on significantly more gore, than its illustrious predecessor. Yet in both cases, what’s fundamentally missing is the anarchic, irrational unpredictability that made the originals so terrifying. Coated in dust and blood and populated by elaborately deformed fiends, Aja’s follow-up to last year’s overrated High Tension is a beautifully photographed monster movie, but such striking visuals have the effect of imparting a sense of carefully choreographed order and stability that deleteriously diffuses the grisly events’ supposed chaos. Other than a brief, tense scene involving a tip-toe escape (with baby in tow) from a bald, fat freak’s rickety abode, the director manages to thoroughly stain his film in crimson without generating many scares, although the sight of a deformed girl with a droopy face asking “Mister, do you want to play with me?” turns out to be the most unintentionally funny cinematic moment of the new year. In its story of a Republican family preyed upon in the New Mexico desert by mutants spawned from the radiation of 1950s atomic bomb tests, Hills attempts some political commentary – conservative dad Bob (Ted Levine), his car adorned with an American flag, loves firearms, while his wimpy Democrat son-in-law Doug (Aaron Stanford) transforms into a vengeful murderer after his wife is slaughtered and infant child abducted. But there’s about as much allegorical depth to Aja’s slickly produced modern exploitation film as there is suspense – which is to say, not nearly enough.