For October, the plan is to write up some horror films that I can recommend to you, my audience. This is one I can vouch for, but with some serious reservations. Don't go into this thing expecting the reinvention of horror or even a return to the slasher films of the early 80s. It's not even close to either of those things. Upon release, this was billed as just that by several movie sites. This is what it is. A film that feels exactly of its time. Which is to say, not scary and full of innappropriate attempts at humor. This picture came out the same year as another similarly heralded film, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon which was similarly a disappointment. Vernon, at least, started out interestingly enough but then devolved into just another run of the mill slasher film, and not a particularly good one at that. Even worse, it featured one of the most grating antagonists I've ever had the displeasure of dealing with for an hour and a half. At least Hatchet's villain lacked a personality. In the words of Kirk Lazarus (Tropic Thunder), they went "full retard" in this one.
The film centers around a group of revellers at Mardis Gras. Ben (Joel David Moore) is the awkward one who'd rather take a swamp tour and stare at gas lights than drink and look at boobies. He's the main character and I couldn't fucking stand him. All he does is mope around and complain about his ex-girlfriend being bent over the chair his mother bought for her by some meat-head. This is the kind of character that's supposed to die immediately. Not one we're supposed to root for. His friend Marcus, "token black guy" from Not Another Teen Movie, is the token black guy in this one and, therefore, also comic relief. Joining them on their swamp tour are a couple of ditzy wannabe starlets, a guy (poor man's Rick Ducommon) pretending to be a producer so he can see those starlets naked, a morose young lady harboring a secret, the old typical american tourist couple, and their guide (an asian pretending to be black or "Jackie Tucker" as Marcus humorously labels him). Story: They get lost in the swamp and attacked and picked off one by one courtesy of resident swamp legend-retard, Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder who has seen better days and roles). The character of Jason Voorhees (played by Hodder and others before him) had personality even if that personality had only two settings; angry and sad(it was all in the eyes!) . This picture is barely a tiny curly hair on Jason's ball sack.
The attacks come quick and brutal with limbs shredded, ripped, torn, etc (he's got retard strength). How did Crowley come to be? As a child, he was teased by some local kids and locked in his cabin to burn. His father tried to rescue him but accidentaly chopped him in the head with a hatchet while he was trying to break in. Now, years later, Crowley or his ghost or whatever is pissed and seeks vengeance on anyone that dares venture close by. So far, it's a familiar story. It stays familiar.
All the characters play a type, which I've already vaguely described. Not one of them comes off as believable. They constantly do stupid things like wander off alone or move too closely to that bush that is shaking for no apparent reason. Here's a plan. Stay by the river and walk/run as fast as you can in the direction you came from. The "scares" aren't really scares at all. I didn't really jump too much because this Crowley fellow seems to announce his presence everytime with menacing screams and howls and I think chest thumping. The intial scare is almost always a false scare, then immediately followed by the real scare. Bush shakes..."ahhh....look at that cute raccoon!". Crowley jumps out behind them, grabs buxom babe or whatever. Let the rending begin.
So, I guess you're wondering why I'm recommending this thing at all? It's got a couple of the greatest kills you'll see in a picture these days. One lady gets her head ripped apart, with bare hands, at the jaw leaving only a dangling tongue. Another girl gets her lower jaw removed courtesy of an electric sander (with a very long extension cord apparently). I think they probably wrote the picture around these two kills. As far as I could tell, Crowley used a hatchet only once: to hack a guy in half in incredibly brutal fashion. Terrific effects work.
Also, It's hard to fault a picture that features cameos from two legends of the genre (Also Hodder, of course). Tony Todd and Robert Englund, who appears in the opening sequence with Joshua Leonard as mystery girl's father and brother respectively. Englund's character ain't that funny though when he accuses Leonard of "squattin to take a piss like a queer." We're used to seeing this guy as an asshole. Also, I'm not sure it was supposed to be funny when Leonard had his spine ripped out, but him yelling "oh god, it hurts it hurts" over and over certainly didn't help things.
I'll say one more nice thing about this one. I liked the atmosphere. Supposedly, they created the swamps of the bayou outside of L.A. somewhere (atleast, that's what I seem to remember from watching the "making of" so many months ago). Very impressive. Atmospherics straight out of Man-Thing and I mean that as a compliment. I think you should see this one because everyone seemed to love it when it came out. It just didn't connect with me. I like my horror a little more visceral, a little more real, a little more old school i guess. Otherwise, I'm just getting a hard on from the effects and that's not the kind that lasts too long. Pretty forgettable, but I think we'll probably be hearing from Adam Green (the director) again. Actually, we did. He made Spiral. I think it bombed (but I admit it looks interesting). Oh well, Hatchet 2 is slated for 2009 so there is that.