Ben is down in the dumps after finding out that the girl he loves has been using her vagina to host another man’s penis. To help him get out of the breakup slump that followed, his friends take him along to Mardi Gras figuring the best medicine for the broken heart is a healthy dose of sex, drugs and rock and roll. To their dismay, Ben just isn’t into it and instead of partaking in all the things that make Mardi Gras worth dealing with the drunks, pick-pockets, rivulets of piss shimmering on the crowded streets, he’d rather take a lame Haunted Swamp Boat Tour. Dragging his friend Marcus along with him, they join some other tourists on a late-night boat ride through the Louisiana swamps and directly into the stomping grounds of a local legend who don’t take too kindly to strangers.
In this day and age of uninspired remakes and torture films, I thought Hatchet was a breath of fresh air. Even though director Adam Green (Spiral) seemed to switch between creating a splatstick type of film along the lines of Evil Dead or Brain Dead, to an ’80s slasher homage, none of that got me down. A good bit of intended comedy fall flat and a couple of times I literally laughed out loud. Not long and loud laughing, but you know…it was audible. Mostly because of the not-so-token black character, Marcus (Deon Richmond) and a cell phone gag. But who cares if the comedy doesn’t hit all the marks in a film like this, right? I mean, with a name like Hatchet, I’m only watching for the kills. The creators wanna through in some tits and laughs? Go for it. But the kills still better be good.
Luckily Green signed on FX veteran John Carl Buechler. Now aside from a few laughs and some tits, Hatchet delivers some brutal, juicy gore. If you have not smiled at the cool factor of a death scene in a horror film in a while, you will be happy to know that there is more than one death in this film that should help remedy that situation.
Even within the budget constraints – disembowelment, decapitations by shovel, a great head splitting scene and even a ridiculous scene with a gas-powered belt sander (just go with it), Hatchet still delivers the goods and most gorehounds should finish the film feeling fairly satisfied. Monster fans will be happy as Adam is not afraid of showing off the Victor Crowley character and does so quite often and up close. He is big and ugly and looks like the love-child of The Goonie’s Sloth and The Toxic Avenger. It should also be noted that in regards to all of the effects, there is NO CGI! Just pounds of latex and copious amounts of the liquid red stuff. Old school, splatter style.
The film does suffer from a few problems, one being the character of Victor Crowley himself. Adam Greene comes so close in creating a new icon to stand next to Jason, Myers and the lot, but falls a bit short of the mark. That’s not to say that there still isn’t a chance with Victor Crowley especially with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre-ish ending of the film that left things ripe for a sequel. Victor Crowley just needs to be fleshed out a tad more. Victor is a mix between Jason, Frankenstein’s Monster and a good portion of mutated, Cajun hillbilly and without a doubt he is an imposing enemy, but he could have used a tad more depth. The score is not memorable, and it would have been nice if Crowley had some THEME music to accompany him. That may sound cliché, but seeing as Hatchet revels in the slasher film dogma, this is one thing that was missing. Lastly, the entire cast does a fine job, but Tamara Feldman‘s performance as the heroine of the film was lacking. This is compounded when considering her back-story.
Even though the title sequence begins with Marilyn Manson aptly screaming “This is the new shit!”, it is not an entirely accurate statement. Green does create a horror film harkening back to the good old days of the Ebert coined “dead teenager movie” but as with most slasher films, Hatchet breaks no new ground. It simply follows the slasher formula of stereotypical characters, pointless female nudity, dumb decision making, bloody deaths, a seemingly unstoppable villain, the lone, female heroine. It’s all here and showcased but luckily, it is not a parody. Well, sometimes it seems like it is – but overall it’s not. Even though Green seems a bit confused on exactly what he wants Hatchet to be, a self-aware parody of slasher films, or an homage to slasher films, he still delivers a fun, bloody film that gives slasher fans some of what they crave.
Keep an eye out for horror veterans such as Robert Englund, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder and even The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard making cameos. They are done in a way that is not distracting, and in the case of Tony Todd, even a bit inspired.
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