Victor Crowley is back! And this time he’s unrated (and it’s personal)! Unfortunately for me, Victor failed to bring plot structure, character development, dread, fright, comedy, suspense, and good dialogue, back with him. Adam Green’s Hatchet failed to illicit any real response from me other than then a pale comparison to what was enjoyable about the slasher/monster film in the first place. However, I did see genuine promise in what he was striving for. After seeing Spiral and Frozen, I thought that he would give a much better run at the sequel, as those films showed him maturing as a director even with the flaws of those aforementioned films. The major issue with both Hatchet films is that instead of creating a wholly new vision of the slasher, the move strays into what I can only call a parody of those earlier films.
While many of the slasher films of the 80’s come off as cheesy now, it is not due to the fact that the filmmakers wanted it that way. In most cases they were legitimately trying to make horror films. With the Hatchet series, it feels like Adam Green is sitting beside me on the couch, constantly nudging me with ‘Hahaha- isn’t this so freakin’ cool? Did you see that gore? This part is hilarious, check it out!’ And that wears out its welcome all too soon. There is nothing so deadly to a horror film than the feeling that it really wants me to like it. It makes it feel like a list of horror tropes was circled and then x2 written beside each one. It’s exactly what happened with Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Hellraiser, but unfortunately, Hatchet started out that way and part 2 is no better.
I thought about giving a detailed rundown about this film, but really it can be summed up in a few short sentences. Girl escapes Victor Crowley, girl goes to Tony Todd for his back story, hicks are rounded up to go hunt Crowley, and then die one by one in the swamp, ultimate showdown between girl and Crowley. Who will survive and what will be left of them? The real failure of this film is how badly it is structured. Almost ¾ of the film are spent building up the legend of Crowley and then most of the ‘horror’ takes place in the last 15 minutes of the film. The movie is as follows: exposition, exposition, exposition, climax. After a terrible back-story and a hackneyed way to tie characters together, the movie just dumps all that so it can kill off one-note characters. In honesty I know a move called Hatchet (not to be confused with the Gary Paulsen book) isn’t supposed to be filled with character development and real insight, I don’t think it is too much to ask to at least try to build some connections. As it stands, most of the deaths that occur are with characters we know little to nothing about, and who serve nothing more than to be a set-piece for another over-the-top death scene.
Another issue that needs to be addressed is that; with the first Hatchet film, Victor Crowley was lauded as being the next big horror icon. Crowley fails to have the screen presence of a Freddy or a Jason, or hell, even a Leprechaun. With bib-overalls and in a ridiculous scene, a 15 foot chainsaw, Crowley seems to come off a bit silly. When you see him, it’s not fear or dread you feel, but the overwhelming boredom of staring at a ‘roided up ex-professional wrestler with a hump on his back and a gleam in his lazy eye. So much is built up about him, but in the end there is no real sense of why he kills people, he just exists as a means to murder, fully devoid of any personality. Nothing truly distinguishes him from any other slasher other than that his face is messed up because we are told he is ‘retarded’. Twenty years from now people will still remember Freddy’s razor claws and Jason’s machete, but somehow I fail to believe that people will note Victor Crowley and his belt sander of destiny.
In a way I feel bad coming down so hard on what is ostensibly an independent horror movie, but when it doesn’t live up to the expectation that the movie itself builds up, then it is up to the viewer to be able to discern what is good and what is not. I do see promise in Adam Green’s career and I hope when and if he does another attempt at the genre, he does it with his tongue a little less in his cheek. What I will say good about this movie is the gore. It really does do a good job at capturing a gory death and what’s better; done with practical effects, which is always a plus in my book. I just wish those effects would had a better movie to back them up.