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In this remake of Wes Craven's 1977 horror thriller, an extended family is waylaid in the New Mexico desert by bloodthirsty mutant killers. Director Alexander Aja (who also co-wrote the screenplay) sticks to the basics of the genre: a few resilient family members, including the peacenik pantywaist who must connect with his inner Rambo and get to skull-bashing; jump-out scares; and lots of bloody, grisly injuries and deaths. Such scenes are disgusting, naturally, but thankfully, Aja doesn't linger on them. A back-story based on the real-life nuclear testing that occurred in the Western deserts in the 1950s and '60s is a nice throwback angle to those vaguely cautionary eco-thrillers of yore, but Aja bobbles the material. He introduces it too early (in the first freakin' frame), and ruins what could have been a horrifying (and even heartbreaking, in its weird B-movie way) revelation. (AH)

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