Ben and a group of college buddies visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras in Adam Green’s Hatchet. When Ben grows bored of the finer points of the nonstop party, he opts to take a haunted swamp tour. On that tour, he meets a young woman named Marybeth. Mary Beth’s father and brother recently went missing in the bayou and she is intent upon finding them. Along with some other colorful characters, Ben and Mary Beth navigate the perils of the Louisiana wetlands and discover firsthand that local legend Victor Crowley is more than just a legend.
Hatchet is written and directed by Adam Green (Frozen). It marks his second feature film and his first with any budget to speak of. While there are some telltale signs that Green was still coming into his own as a filmmaker, there’s plenty to like about Hatchet.
The performances are the weakest point of the first Hatchet film. Joel David Moore (Shark Night 3D) and Tamara Feldman (Supernatural) turn in the best performance of the bunch as Ben and Marybeth but that’s not saying a lot. Kane Hodder also turns in a good performance in a double role as Victor Crowley and Mr. Crowley. The lack of quality performances can be attributed primarily to the film’s limited budget not allowing for multiple takes and Green’s lack of experience as a director. In spite of less than stellar performances, the film still manages to stay afloat.
Green’s script makes up for many of the film’s shortcomings. It is full of memorable dialogue like “Your nipples are dumb.” The girls on the tour that are making a soft-core porn film are not the most talented performers but Green gives them plenty of quotable dialogue to recite.
Hatchet introduces audiences to Victor Crowley, who is one of the most interesting slasher film killers to hit the scene in recent years. He has an elaborate backstory that is explored even more in the sequels and his invincibility is actually explained, unlike most slasher killers that are just invincible to allow for more sequels.
The film is set to breakneck speed. Hatchet starts off with a pair of brutal death and only continues to up the ante from there. Each kill sequence is more brutal than the last and there is a very large cast of characters that are systematically picked off by Victor Crowley at near perfect intervals.
Something that Hatchet does to set itself apart from the legions of other slasher films is to offer a dynamic cast of characters. The cast is comprised of characters that range in age from late teens to senior citizens. Offering such a diverse cast makes the order in which the kill scenes transpire less predictable and makes the film much less formulaic.
The effects are one of the film’s strong suits. The gore is excessive in every way and it is all done practically. Adam Green grew up watching horror films and Hatchet pays tribute to the slasher films of yesteryear that employed only the use of practical makeup effects. The gore is off the hook. It delves into excess and looks a bit cartoonish at times but it’s hard not to appreciate all of the thought and preparation that went into bringing it to life.
As for nudity, there is more of it than you can shake a stick at. The Mardi Gras scene is so heavy with nudity that it’s like swimming in a sea of boobies. The two girls that are making a soft-core porn film are topless throughout and only add to the already copious amounts of bare skin the film offers.
If you haven’t seen Hatchet, it is an entertaining slasher film. It is chock full of gratuitous violence and nudity. And it introduces a new and interesting killer. Hatchet is currently available on DVD from Anchor Bay.
Director(s): Adam Green
Writer(s): Adam Green
Stars: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Tony Todd, Deon Richmond, Kane Hodder
Studio/ Production Co: Anchor Bay
Length: 85 Minutes