Horror. Worldview. Faith.

Hatchet – Review

Hatchet – Review

Jul 24, 2010

reviewed by hallo
directed by Adam Green, 2006

I have continued to hear news reports concerning the fall 2010 release of Hatchet 2 directed by Adam Green.  Each of these reports served as a gentle reminder that I had yet to see the original, so I figured the time was ripe.  I will return to a few brief comments about the sequel below.

After quickly reviewing the production team and cast for Hatchet, I was surprised by a couple of things.  First, I was surprised that I had never heard of the director Adam Green.  The movie has caused enough of a stir in the horror world that I figured I would have at least known something about the director.  Nevertheless, I had never seen nor heard any of the 10 films he had directed.  On the contrary, the cast was packed with familiar names such as Joel Moore, Kane Hodder, Richard Riehle, Robert Englund,  and Tony Todd.  I was intrigued to say the least.

The film is about a young man named Ben who has unfortunately been dumped by his girlfriend of eight years.  In a friendly attempt to offer consolation, a few of his friends take Ben to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Ben, however, wants nothing to do with the moral decay of Mardi Gras much to the chagrin of his friends.  He decides to find something that better suits his interests and seeks out a haunted swamp tour he heard about from a friend.  Although the rest of his group ditches Ben, one loyal friend named Marcus hangs around.  Marcus, as it it turns out, becomes one of the very few reasons why Hatchet is watchable.  Although the established swamp tour business is no longer doing tours (because they were sued), they stumble across another tour guide.  As we will discover, this new tour guide is a fake and is only looking to make a buck.

Ben and an extremely reluctant Marcus end up paying for a tour along with a couple of porn stars, a porn director, an elderly couple, and a quiet but assertive lady.  Ben attempts to befriend the quiet lady, whose name is Marybeth, by whipping out effective conversation starters such as “I like that coat.”  Anyway, the group eventually gets to the boat and makes their way down the swamp.  Along the way all the guests begin to realize that the guide is a scam and just as it comes to a head, he wrecks the boat into a pile of rocks.  Too bad for them, because this is the home of Victor Crowley, a severely deformed man who was accidentally stabbed in the head by his father with a hatchet.  Now, as the legend goes, Victor walks the swamp looking for folks to brutally mutilate (sound like anyone else you know?).  In classic horror movie style, folks start dying one by one in rather gruesome ways.  The gore is excellent and is probably the only other redeeming aspect of the movie.  Arms are torn off, jaws are sawed off, spines are ripped out, and heads are twisted off.  The gore is not really an essential part of the film in terms of the storytelling, but as a horror movie lover I am always pleased to see a well done kill scene.

Amid all the stupid dialogue and confusing actions on the part of the group, Ben finally decides to go back to Victor’s house to look for gasoline cans.  Bad idea as that causes the death of more people.  Ultimately, Marcus bites the dust and just when it appears that things are over for Ben and Marybeth, they manage to run through Victor with a spear.  Just like all good slasher movies, the heroes end up on a canoe to paddle away with nice peaceful music playing (sound like another ending to a movie?).  Oops!  Victor isn’t dead!!  Can you believe it??  He pulls Marybeth into the water.  She manages to escape but gets caught in some branches under the water.  Just above her she can see Ben’s hand reaching down in the water grasping for her.  She finally manages to reach Ben’s hand and is pulled up out of the water.  The bad news is that Victor has ripped Ben’s arms out of their sockets and was holding them down into the water to lure Marybeth up.  The film ends with Marybeth in the embrace of Victor’s arms.

The movie has absolutely zero to offer in originality and creative story telling.  However,  I’m not so sure that was their intent.  The tagline for the movie is “Old School American Horror.”  This is a film that sets out to take a well-established formula and do it well.  Three elements were obviously important for director Adam Green.  First, he wanted to assemble a solid group of actors.  This is a movie where you keep saying, “oh yeah, I know that guy.”  It does add credibility to the film and it is always fun to see old name resurface.  Second, humor was a critical part of the movie and it was provided beautifully by Marcus and Shawn (the fake tour guide).  Third, gore was used as a means to filter between horror fans who live for well done classic gore and those who don’t.  So much so that director Adam Green’s comments concerning the second film are, “if you didn’t like the first one, don’t see the second one.”  Green’s directing leaves something to be desired and a majority of the dialogue is pathetic.  Having said that, this probably succeeds in what it was attempting to do:  provide a fun, stomach-wrenching gore fest wrought with laughs and “shock” moments.

Philosophically, the movie really says absolutely nothing.  The only point of interest is a running theme throughout the film concerning folks who pretend to be something they aren’t.  The tour guide who speaks with a terrible New Orleans accent is really a scam artist.  The “porn director” is really a business man just trying to get some action.  One of the porn actresses lies about attending NYU.  What all that has to do with the gore infestation that is Victor Crowley I have no idea.  The only thing I was able to come up with is the irony that Victor, a brutally distorted human being, was always honest and open about who he was.  In contrast, he is now killing those who hide their own inner darkness behind a facade of lies.  More likely is the possibility that the writers were frantically looking for a story to weave in-between the awesome death scenes.

From what I have been reading concerning the sequel, Adam Green has decided to step it up a notch.  Humor, apparently, will not play as prominent a role in the sequel and the gore promises to be taken to the next level.  My hunch is that Green is somewhat amazed that he will actually be directing a sequel and has decided to strengthen his grip on what could be the start of a name for himself.  The movie has a strong set of fans and the sequel seems to be gaining some high expectation.  Victor is not finished yet.

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