Directed by Adam Green [Other horror films: Frozen (2010), Hatchet II (2010), Chillerama (2011, segment ‘The Diary of Anne Frankenstein’), Digging Up the Marrow (2014), Victor Crowley (2017)]
Hatchet’s not nearly as good a film as I remember it being, but it’s still mostly amusing and a fun romp. I can’t ignore some of the problems Hatchet has, though overall, I think the film’s still enjoyable, if not a bit below average.
My biggest personal gripe is that some of the scenes have a bit too much comedy in them. The character Marcus, played by Dion Richmond, was just too much, and though he had some solid quotes (“You look like you’ve been molested by wolves!”), I could have done without a lot of his antics.
Otherwise, the rest of the cast was okayish. The main character, played by Joel David Moore, was definitely a bit on the awkward side, but he made for an interesting lead. Amara Zaragoza’s Marybeth had a bit of depth to her, but her (understandably) emotional moments toward the end bothered me a bit.
Of course, there’s cameos from both Robert Englund and Tony Todd. I think Todd’s was quite a bit more amusing than Englund’s, but both are fun to see (and add to the retro feeling that Hatchet was going for). Richard Riehle was fun in his role, and Parry Shen too had a decent performance.
It’s the gore here, though, more than the characters, that bring the film attention, and for good reason. Aside from the one off-screen kill (which was suspenseful in it’s own right), you have some really solid and gory kills here, the most spectacular probably being the jaw and head being ripped in half. There’s also someone’s head getting twisted backwards, along with someone’s spine being ripped out, along with someone’s torso halved, along with someone’s arms being ripped off. I mean, this isn’t your grandfather’s horror movie – it came to play.
The budget here is noticeably limited, but Hatchet definitely did well with what they had. In classic slasher fashion, they had a decently tragic origin for Victory Crowley (portions of which reminded me of Pumpkinhead), and I think it really brought his character into a sympathetic light. It doesn’t excuse the wholesale slaughter of anyone who enters the swamp, but there you go.
And on that note, the setting here, a swamp, is definitely appreciated. I always wished there was a classic slasher set in a swamp, because I think there’s a lot of creepy potential with such a setting (and no, I don’t count Eaten Alive). Hatchet may not be from the 1980’s, but hey, I’ll take it.
If there’s one thing along with the comedy that sort of throw me off, it’s the inconclusive cliffhanger of an ending. I sort of see the appeal, but I wanted a bit more than that. Still, Hatchet is a decently fun movie, and though I do find it ever-so-slightly below average, I can still see myself giving it a go every few years.
Hatchet was covered on episode #29 of Fight Evil’s podcast, so if you want to listen to Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I discuss this, give it a go.