Hatchet review by The Grim Ringler


It seems that for a great many years the slasher film has been all but dead. Sure, you have proto-slasher movies that take elements from the horror sub-genre and mash them up with other horror movie staples but it’s been rare that we’ve gotten a slasher film. What makes these films so beloved are the very things that the critics hate – their predictability and their odd morality. In a slasher film, the sinners are the ones that are punished yet, well, the killer is a bit of a sinner too, no? Hmm. The thing is that, as hackneyed as they can be, there are some very entertaining slasher films out there – mad killers on the loose terrorizing young innocents – it’s just not been easy to find them. Too often horror filmmakers have relied on the easy scare and the easy story. Hell, look at any number of horror franchises and you can see the many deaths of a great concept or idea. With the release of HATCHET the buzz hit fast. THIS they said, was the return to glory for the slasher film. Well, hmm, that’s an interesting notion, isn’t it? For me, the trouble has not been that there are too few slasher films, but that too many of them were self-referential or parody. Suddenly, no one takes the movies seriously anymore. And, while I enjoyed HATCHET quite a bit, with all the buzz, I hadn’t expected another farce to be the supposed re-birth of this genre fave.

The film takes place in the bayous of New Orleans during Mardi Gras and several friends are down there enjoying the boobs, booze, and uh, something else that starts with a ‘b’. The trouble is that one of the guys just isn’t into the scene. Still stinging over a bad break up, he decides to ditch his friends to go on a ‘haunted boat ride’ that is supposed to take travelers on a tour of some of New Orleans’s spookier areas. He is joined by another member of his friends and they set off in search of the scares. Their initial try is thwarted but they do happen upon a place that does cater to those who have an itch for the macabre and in no time at all a small group heads toward the bayou. The group is a motley crew, with a wanna-be porn director, two ‘actresses’, a broody woman with a secret, and a nosy old couple, all lead by the captain of the boat, who seems to be a better faker than he is a tour guide. The tour doesn’t quite end up being what they’d all been promised but when the boat crashes into some rocks; it seems the terror is just about to begin. You see, they’ve crashed near the former home of a disfigured young man that died horribly when some locals accidentally burned his house down. The boy is said to lurk the woods now, trapped in the evening he died and killing all who dare venture near his home. Naturally, no one believes the mysterious woman when she tells them this but, as soon as the monstrous killer appears and starts ripping and chopping people to pieces; their tune changes and suddenly they have to find a way to either survive or fight back if they hope to survive the night.

One thing you can’t fault with this movie is its fun factor. This is fun in spades and it will only get better on DVD when you can see the ocean of gore they must have cut out of the movie. Yes, this is a throwback to the days of yore for slasher films with a disfigured madman on the loose and killing people with abandon, but, it’s also got a bad bite of the modern with its silly humor. Yes, humor is good, but too much can limit a film’s impact. The characters are interesting but a bit cartoonish, which doesn’t allow you to care too much for them. The film is shot well but looked too dark in the theater so hopefully this will be fixed on the DVD release. There are a LOT of fun cameos from other horror films and some inside jokes that fans will get a kick out of finding. The killer himself is a bit over the top but is brought to vibrant life by Jason Voorhees’s longest tenant, stuntman KANE HODDER. The film moves well and has a lot of life and energy, I just think that it was a bit too easy to guess what was going to happen and where we were going to end up. My biggest gripe is that this felt the same way NAPOLEON DYNAMITE felt to me, and that’s to say – premeditated. It feels too much like they wanted to make a new horror icon, a new franchise, and wanted to play off on all of that. Not bad things, but just things that make it all feel too by the numbers for me. The end is a fun gag but betrays the characters and really, seems to be a lame attempt to leave an open door for a second entry, if not more.

The film is very fun, is well made, and will be a riot for horror fans but this is not the re-boot for the slasher film. This is a loving homage, for sure, but this is not the next level. It’s time (and I am sure it won’t be long until it happens) for someone to take these films seriously and to the next level. These are fun movies, crowd pleasers, and, in the right hands, can really put some scares back into people, but it’s a very thin line you walk when you do it. HATCET is well worth seeing, but just don’t expect it to mean more than a one night stand.

6 out of 10 Jackasses
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