It's not a remake. It's not a sequel. And it's not based on a Japanese one. But is Hatchet actually any good?
I have just sat down on the train after a press screening of Hatchet and while my head is still spinning from delirious joy, I thought I’d write my review before the high passes.
Simply put, Hatchet is an awful lot of fun. Rarely does any movie, yet alone a horror movie, have me grinning from ear to ear from start to finish, only to be interrupted with occasional bouts of uproarious laughter. To love Hatchet is not to praise it as a highbrow, post-modern piece of art, but (as the publicity so rightly states) to support a return to old school values in slasher movies.
And by that, I mean explosive gore and a good smattering of boobs. At no point in the movie do you get that nasty sense of distance from the material, no seriousness or pretension that became so fashionable post-Scream. In fact, the one concern I do have for the movie is that a lot of people will go and see it expecting some kind of original or new spin on the old material, and if that’s the case then you may be disappointed. I always try and avoid reading too much about movies I want to see, I hadn’t even watched the trailer for Hatchet, so I could approach the film as fresh as possible, so even I found myself thinking, near the beginning of the movie, gore – check, boobs – check, wondering if there would be any new level or fresh dimension added to the old formula. Thank God there wasn’t. I just sat back and enjoyed every last second of it, because as I’ve always maintained sometimes it isn’t about being original, it’s about sticking to the original material, but doing it well and letting your love of the material shine through.
So you may ask ‘why so enjoyable?’
I am known for being overtly loud during gory, over the top deaths in horror movies. I have enjoyed watching them for years and I just can’t control my laughter and reaction to those scenes in horror movies, like a kid who’s had too much jelly and ice cream, and Hatchet had me virtually bouncing up and down at times in my seat, each and every glorious death was a joy. A common mistake with horror movies over the last decade or so, is one simple problem – not enough victims. When paying to see a slasher movie, I don’t want an engaging storyline or wasted minutes on pointless character development, I want a body count and I want to see every minute of every death, the gorier the better (I am normal, it’s the principle, you understand?). Adam Green’s master stroke is that he does exactly what he set out to do and doesn’t waste a single drop of blood.
I could write a synopsis of the movie, but all you really need to know is victims woods monster = gory fun. Sorry, did I mention how much fun this movie was already? Well, it was. Lots. Of Victor Crowley though, I will say that he, like so much of the movie, seemed most indebted to the Friday 13th movies (the opening is pure 13th as is the repeated violation of trees). Victor is a mixture of Jason Vorhees on steroids, with moments that reminded me of Ed in Evil Dead 2 (and of course the Elephant Man which is referenced in the movie itself), with his make-up, and indeed the effects throughout, feeling so nicely retro as to make me feel right at home. Although in comparison to Jason there is none of that stalking subtlety. That’s right, I said not as subtle as Jason.
I would actively encourage people to go and see Hatchet at the cinema, not just for the added cinematic effect of having loud sound and music cues, that made me jump more than a few times, but also because it has just occurred to me that although most of us grew up with slashers, we only ever really got to see them on video. For me it was an age restriction issue (although I did manage to make Freddy’s Dead in err… 3D – still got the glasses too), but also because they were mostly straight to video and mostly still are. So go and join the Hatchet Army and fight for it to be shown at your local cinema, because it’s not just Hatchet counting on your support, but the future of slasher movies and a return to the big screen of a tradition that, like Victor Crowley, should never die.
Duncan Bowles is a filmmaker and ‘director monkey’ with Too Many Monkeys.