Don’t be fooled by all the false hype, Hatchet is not going to be a horror classic. And no, Victor Crowley will not be any sort of horror icon in the next thirty to seventy years. Perhaps during your great grandchildren’s lifetime, but I’m just calling it like it is. Hatchet is a good enough horror flick in spite of the hype machine working over time, but I don’t see it as a hall of famer in my lifetime, sorry. Director Green is talented and seems like a good guy, but Hatchet is far from a heavyweight.
Strictly this is a love it or hate it horror slasher that will or will not work for some horror audiences in the long run. There’s always the exception to the rule though; case in point me. I found Hatchet to be a fun little horror slasher centered on sheer exploitative nudity, shameless comedy, obligatory cameos from horror legends (including Kane Hodder who works double time as Crowley and his dad), and buckets of gore used to accentuate the sheer absurdity of the film that I can basically describe as a tongue in cheek remake of Friday the 13th.
True, I bash the movie in a sense, but only to de-mystify much of what the bullshit machine has been rolling out for it since it began screening in theaters. Not to knock Green in any way but there’s hype and then there’s just flat out bold-face lying. Nonetheless I actually had a good time watching Hatchet. I laughed a lot, I rolled my eyes, and I simply moved on to something else virtually unaffected.
Horror comedies are difficult to make and director Adam Green comes pretty close to creating a great one. Green doles out some genuinely sharp one-liners including my favorite: “Does anyone want to tell me why Jamie’s got a gun?!” Green strives for the eighties throwback Grindhouse hybrid and succeeds in delivering what the movie is meant to; down to its core it’s a disposable title.
The story is simply just a bunch of morons on a boat who get stranded in the spot where a legend of a murderer with a hatchet prevails. As time passes, the body count begins to rise in the most creative of circumstances. Shoulders are split apart, a circular saw is implemented, and in one of the best scenes, a woman’s entire upper face is torn from her jaw. With clever slight of hand and wonderfully traditional gore effects, the splatter in Hatchet is a spectacle.
Much like every such slasher, Green gives us a character who stems from an urban legend, and derives shamelessly from Friday the 13th, providing a deformed boy dying in a gruesome death. Green anxiously tries to keep us guessing in vain who this monster is. Is it his father or the angry soul of Crowley? Really, attempting to guess is just a dry masturbatory exercise overestimating Green’s product.
You have to give credit to the competent cast, including the utterly hysterical Mercedes McNab who aces the dumb blond portion of the film, while Deon Richmond and Perry Shen are an absolute hoot. It's a good thing the cast holds things together, because the movie is sadly repetitive by the second half even considering it’s a ninety minute film. What begins as a bunch of mismatched yokels fighting amongst each other eventually dissolves into nothing more than a hack, slash, scream, and run genre picture, and Green feeds us a climax that’s unexpected but incredibly hackneyed and cheesy.
For my money Feast better exemplified what Green was going for than Hatchet does, but Green never writes under the pretense that his film is meant to be smarter than we think. Hatchet is a mixed bag in the end. It’s a fun and very funny slasher flick, but it’s also a forgettable one that is sadly ruined by the hyperbolic quote on the box, and the almost absurd hype.
Fans of Hatchet unite! For tonight you dine in DVD hell… but you know, in a good way. In other words, Hatchet has a busload of extras that will please anyone who loved what the picture has to offer. Even for someone strictly in the middle ground, I was absolutely impressed by what there is to pick from here, and it made me appreciate the movie a little more.
“The Making of Hatchet” is a fun forty minute production featurette that harps on pure cliché at first, but is a fun glimpse nonetheless. Green talks about his introduction into horror with John Carpenter’s The Thing, and how a folk tale from summer camp birthed the tale of Victor Crowley. Green has surefire chutzpah and discusses his attempts to package Hatchet as a teaser trailer first and foremost, and there’s even an interview with one of my favorite horror journalists, Ryan Rotten. This is a horror geek getting a f----ing movie made here, folks, and love the movie or hate the movie, Green has talent and watching him bring together a work of love is fun to watch. I genuinely sympathized with Green and rooted him on as he touched base with many horror icons, and it’s a very good Making Of feature for the fans. Forty minutes wasn’t enough for me, honestly.
There’s also the nine minute featurette of “Meeting Victor Crowley” which basically explores the creation of the character Victor Crowley. Yes, it’s another excellent featurette despite of the short run time. Green practices the Ridley Scott method and explains how he kept Crowley’s appearance mostly a secret anxious for genuine horrified expressions from his cast, and their reactions are hysterical. Not only that, but you gain a better sense of Hodder’s professionalism, in the end.
I loved the way Green and Hodder teamed up to terrify each individual cast member in some way, and it’s a blast, pure and simple. “Guts and Gore” recalls the casts favorite moments of gore in the film, and also extrapolates the gruesome and quite entertaining splatter effects. Green and the rest of the cast simply marvel at the some of the gore put down here, and I couldn’t agree more. The Saw to the face, and the head ripped from its roots are some of the coolest sequences of Hatchet, and damn it, they don’t fail to deliver and feed the gore hounds. “Anatomy of a Kill” is a six minute glimpse into the strategy behind staging murders in “Hatchet” and it’s a wonderful companion to “Guts and Gore.” How did Green simply pull off the face tear sequence? It’s quite fascinating, and I loved how the actress just went with it, in the end.
“A Twisted Tale” is a bit of a cliché take on Adam Green’s life. Going in at seven minutes, Green recollects his utter fascination with Twisted Sister and how his love for them was spawned by his grandmother, who gave him his first cassette tape. Green is the unusual sort, but he’s a very interesting guy, and the whole place in the extras list is questionable but admirable. They even manage to get an interview with Dee Snider who touches base with Green to discuss how Green affected him equally.
The three minute “Gag Reel” is pretty funny but really is just a show of multiple takes from the film including line flubs and whatnot. There are no real gags here that will leave you in hysterics but it’s still worth a giggle or two.
Finally, there’s the audio commentary with Adam Green, and most of the cast from Hatchet, and this is a good one. The exhanges between Green and Will Barratt is absolutely hilarious. The two seemingly open up a few cans of beer ensuring a truly wild experience, and it works. Green talks about the difficulties with the filming, and Barratt discusses the hilarious instance with the alligator and how they fooled us into thinking Robert Englund was in it. I love the commentary and it surely makes Hatchet worth re-watching.