There are two ways to make a successful horror film. The first is to go as dark and scary as possible; have the film draw the viewers on to the edge of their seats and even if you can’t make them scream, have the experience living in their nightmares. The second is to embrace how far the genre can stretch reality and then just have fun with it. While it may seem that one is a bit more complex than the other, if done properly, you can yield The Exorcist or Evil Dead II. For Hatchet II writer/director Adam Green has chosen option B, covered it with a thousand gallons of fake blood, and created something that every gorehound the world over will love.
Unfettered by the ratings board, this sequel to Green’s 2006 cult classic Hatchet doesn’t know the definition of the words “decency” or “restraint” – or “plot” or “character” for that matter. The film’s raison d'être is as a splatter-fest. Looking for a story with meaning? Not a big fan of blood-and-guts on screen? You’re not the intended audience here and this movie could not care less about you. With the proper mindset and expectations, however, you can feel free to enjoy yourself.
Kicking off at the exact second the first film ended, Marybeth Dunston (now played by Danielle Harris) has escaped the deadly clutches of New Orleans swamp demon Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Getting back to shore, she revisits the greedy and self-serving Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) to learn about what she had experienced. A plan is then hatched to get a gang together so that they may go back down to the swamp and end the curse of Victor Crowley once and for all.
While there is an attempt to explain the legend behind Crowley’s existence, it’s really all for naught. He’s the one character who’s actually fleshed out in any way, but it’s not why people are going to put their asses in the seats. It’s the same reason why every character is essentially a Ziploc bag full of organs and red food dye waiting to be popped. Each scene in the film may as well have come from the world of Mortal Kombat: nobody really cares why these people are fighting each other, they just want to see the Fatalities. In this department, Green absolutely delivers. Every one of Crowley’s victims is slaughtered in exceedingly brutal ways, usually to comedic effect. There’s no reason for a six foot chainsaw to exist in reality, but boy does Crowley find a good use for it.
By any other standard, Hatchet II really shouldn’t work. The performances aren’t bad, but they also aren’t anything notable. The movie’s structure is based on a repetitive set-up-and-execute fashion. It overcomes these negatives by embracing what it really is, knowing exactly who’s going to see it and giving them what they want. To say that this film isn’t for most people is an understatement. But those who understand what Adam Green is going for and still want to see it will not leave the theater disappointed.
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