It’s that time of year again, where all the CRaziEs come out and horror fans frolic around in their element. This includes watching horror flicks on those brisk October nights. Last October, I bestowed upon you 13 Halloween horror movie reviews. Some were classics! Others were decent. A few were so bad that one had to watch them anyway. This month, I reviewed “7 Deadly Horror” flicks to help guide my loyal readers through their tireless search in finding a worthwhile horror flick. Watch at your own entertainment risk!
In 2006, writer/director Adam Green came out of "the swap" with a film that celebrated the greatness of the ‘80s horror-slasher flicks. Depending on who you are, that news is either music to your ears or a kick in the gut. In an effort not to be coy, the guy succeed on some levels in paying homage to the genre with Hatchet. Basically, it is 84 minutes of graphic kills and a few gratuitous boob shots. What else does an ’80s horror fan need?
Ben (Joel Moore) and his friends are living it up during Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Well, everyone except Ben. He’s down on his luck cause his girlfriend ditched him. Instead of embracing all the partying that comes with Mardi Gras (topless chicks and strong alcohol) the guy is sulking and just wants to take a haunted swamp tour. Don't we all? His friend Marcus (Deon Richmond), doesn’t want to leave his boy hanging and reluctantly tags along.
On the boat, six other people also take part this shady tour guided by “local” Asian Shawn (Parry Shen). Among the group (body count) is a happy old couple (Richard Riehle & Patrika Darbo). A wannabe “Girls Gone Wild” director (Joel Murray) and his two mindless pieces of ass/talent (Mercedes McNab & Joleigh Fioravanti). And there is the quiet local in Marybeth (Tamara Feldman). As they venture through the swamp via pontoon boat, tales of a former resident named Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) are told.
Mr. Crowley lived in isolation with his insanely deformed son Victor. However, it was known by everyone in town that Victor was a freak show and people came by the house to torment the poor boy. One night, local punks accidentally set fire to the house and Mr. Crowley inadvertently kills his son while trying to save him. As years went by, locals (Robert Englund in cameo mode) went missing. People say it was Victor Crowley, back from the dead, still waiting for his father to save him.
When the boat tour runs into trouble and the crew is forced to abandon ship, they learn that the legend of Victor Crowley is more realistic than they think. As they try to find a way out of the swamp, the giant disfigured legend comes to life and he is blood-thirsty angry.
The story floats around with themes from Friday the 13th and Wrong Turn. What has been missing in slasher flicks today is the supernatural element. Adam Green wisely keeps this element guarded, as it adds suspense for the viewer. Humans killing humans is not nearly as fun as having a supernatural being as the killer. Hence the long-term success of Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers in horror cinema.
Obviously when judging a horror flick, the kills have to be inventive and plentiful. Hatchet definitely covers the latter. In being inventive, horror veterans have seen it all, so Hatchet may not show one any innovation. You will however want to cheer after every kill. When limbs are torn off, or someone gets impaled by a woodshed tool, you will react as if your favorite team just scored a touchdown.
Intelligence is shown in the campy script. Speaking of campy, the soundtrack sets the tone early on. And perhaps this does get too campy. You won’t find yourself necessarily routing for the antagonist, but being on the side of the victims is something the script can’t force one to do. Personally, this could have been more tense but this wasn’t the goal of the writing. Since it does go campy, Green’s candor and wit found in the dialogue, will amuse the viewer.
Overall, Hatchet is a suitable entry into this sub-genre of horror. It’s pretty straight-forward and is reminiscent of a Jason Voorhees greatest kills collection. A refreshing aspect, is the use of classic production qualities found in horror flicks over today’s junkyard of CGI. That said, the back drop of the swamp and a old-school looking baddie will entertain fans.