Review: Hatchet III / Cert: 18 / Director: B.J. McDonnell / Screenplay: Adam Green / Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams / Release Date: March 31st
With the box office demise of death merchants Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger, writer/director Adam Green has certainly done slasher fans a favour with his creation of the Hatchet franchise. Now in his third outing, the deranged, deformed psycho mass murderer Victor Crowley (Hodder) shows no sign of slowing down, despite Green vacating the director’s chair in favour of tyro helmsman B.J. McDonnell.
Yes, Crowley is back, despite being literally bisected vertically with a chain saw as the film opens...or as the last one closed. (We pick up immediately where Hatchet II left off with Marybeth (Harris) performing some none too subtle power tool surgery on Crowley in self defence.) In a twist that not many of the earlier '80s and '90s franchise slashers ventured near, Marybeth, as the lone survivor of the murderous onslaught, is actually arrested on suspicion of the slaughter of all the victims of Hatchet II. I always wondered how those final survivors managed to explain everything. In a welcome return to genre films, the local sheriff is played by Zach Galligan who hardly seems to have aged since his Gremlins/Waxworks days.
However, we see that Victor Crowley is no easier a man to put down and keep down than his inspirational predecessor Jason Voorhees, and he’s soon back stomping around in the backwaters and swamps of the Louisiana bayou. It’s Amanda (Caroline Williams - familiar to slasher fans for her roles in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Rob Zombie’s Halloween II) who holds the key to a solution to the problem of a killer who can’t be killed.
Speaking as a firm fan of the Friday the 13th films, it truly is great to see the imposing and intimidating form of Kane Hodder back in murderous form, executing some of the nastiest "kills" to be seen in a horror film – including here a memorable penetrating punch to the stomach, grabbing the spine and yanking out the backbone and skull. Speaking of Friday the 13th, trivia lovers will no doubt be interested to learn that Derek Mears, who played the role of Jason in the 2009 reboot, has a substantial role in this as the SWAT team leader commanding the search and recovery team investigating the recent massacres (who unsurprisingly provide Crowley with some new victims). There’s also a fan-pleasing role for genre favourite Sid Haig, and a "blink and you’ll miss it" fleeting cameo for a character from the first Hatchet whose identity I won’t reveal here. While making no real sense, it’s a nice touch.
The Hatchet films have succeeded by mixing chills and copious amounts of gore with well-written fast, slick and funny dialogue. Yes, the situations and the characters are indeed clichéd; Hatchet creator Adam Green, who has a non-speaking cameo early in the film, knows this, and rather than provide tired old scenarios we’re all familiar with ad nauseum, Green has, so far created a trilogy that celebrates this subgenre while adding some self-deprecating humour. Effectively, we’re not mocking the cliché, we’re not laughing at the films and its improbable situations – we’re laughing along with them, and enjoying more than a fair share of jolts along the way.
With the plot device now firmly established that Crowley is indestructible, there’s no reason why there can’t be a Hatchet IV and beyond, and as long as they’re as much fun to watch as this one, featuring some laugh-out loud lines and strong characterisations, I’m looking forward to seeing more of them. You really can’t beat all-out escapist entertainment with a smirk on its face and a hatchet in its hand.