Director: Adam Green Starring: Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore & Deon Richmond Synopsis: When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turns into a horrific nightmare. Rating: 18 Runtime: 85 minutes
Hatchet is a B-movie throwback to the type of horror films that were so popular in the 80’s. It contains a young cast, the type of which we have seen a million times before, and it also contains a freakishly strong antagonist who, of course, has been the victim of some terrible childhood event. Hatchet doesn’t attempt to do anything new with the genre, and instead plays it for laughs in its attempt to hark back to the genre’s perceived glory days. This is all well and good, but does that make the film any good?
Hatchet relies on a simple premise. A group of tourists take a haunted boat tour deep into the New Orleans swamp land, for what is meant to be a getaway from the obviously not fun at all Mardi Gras celebrations that are going on in the city. Of course, the boat tour soon turns from being a night of distraction into a fight for survival as the boat runs aground and the young cast soon find themselves becoming the latest victims of Victor Crowley.
The cast is your archetypal bunch of victims. There are two whores accompanied by a creepy guy pretending to be a film producer who continually films them and asks them to remove their shirts, there’s the sports jock alpha male, the fool who led them on the trip and the tortured soul who has a secret past. Again, there is nothing new here, but director Adam Green wants the audience to have fun in watching these good-looking American teenagers getting picked off one by one.
Once the killings begin, Hatchet delves into true ott territory. Bodies are hacked, limbs are chopped and blood spews everywhere as if it were a leaking pipe. As Victor Crowley dishes out the hurt, he comes over as a cross between Jason Voorhees and Michael Myer’s, stalking his prey and being able to appear from anywhere and also having that, seemingly, indestructible nature.
Hatchet is not a film to be taken seriously, so it’s good that the cast and crew know this. Hatchet is a self-aware horror film, perhaps nowhere as much as say Scream or The Cabin in the Woods, but it knows the rules of the genre. And while it makes no attempt to subvert these rules, it knows how to make the best of them.
Whilst Hatchet is a lot of fun, the gags and gore take precedent over any characterisation. Horror films often suffer from this, and the cast becomes a faceless checklist of who will be killed next. This leads the audience into not really caring about the characters and the films biggest strength becomes its biggest weakness. In that, while it is fun to watch the cast get ripped apart, you really need someone to root for during the spectacle, and a lack of a hero or heroes does tell by the film’s end.
In summary: Hatchet is a fun, silly and very gory throwback to the horror films of the 80’s. While it lacks any sense of characterisation, it makes up for it by being an enjoyable slasher with some nice cameos from several horror icons.