HOFF 2011: HATCHET II Review

Peter Martin, Managing Editor
[Adam Green's Hatchet 2 screens as part of a North American indie spotlight at the HOFF festival in Estonia, providing a handy excuse to revisit a previous review.]

Splatter fans will have a field day. Adam Green's sequel to his 2006 slasher flick, which debuted at Fantastic Fest to uproarious popular acclaim (and the Audience Award), provides more of the same bloody, gooey nonsense. It's a hard-core horror movie for hard-core horror movie fans, made by a hard-core horror fan: no more and no less.

There's something to be said for integrity, and even though extreme splatter flicks don't nourish me personally, movies like HATCHET II are tailor-made for for their audience. Green picks up the story from the ending of the first film, as Marybeth (Danielle Harris) defeats Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) in the Louisiana swamp that he has been haunting since his fiery death years ago.

An encounter with a grizzled man in a shack leads Marybeth back to Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) in New Orleans. In the first film, Reverend Zombie only had a cameo, explaining the legend of Victor Crowley. Here, happily, he has a much bigger part to play, although he begins by delving into the truth behind the legend.

The flashback sequence is the best thing in the movie for non-splatter fans, nicely shot and paced to explain Reverend Zombie's theory that if the three people who were really responsible for Victor Crowley's death can, in effect, be sacrificed to him, then Crowley can rest in peace. And the Reverend's boat tour business can get back in full swing.

The Reverend sets about recruiting veteran bayou hunters, a good twist on the college students who dominated the first picture. Unfortunately, very little is done with the idea. The experienced hunters are no more adept at surviving a serial killer's rage than the dumb college students. They act in ways that are just as idiotic. I realize that slasher flicks don't *require* intelligent actions by the characters, but it certainly would have elevated the picture to another level. As it is, it's a lost opportunity.

In any event, at the Reverend's urging (really, a demand) Marybeth convinces her Uncle Bob (Tom Holland) to come along. Also along on the trip: the hormonal Layton (AJ Bowen), who provides comic relief, and Justin (Parry Chen, from the first movie) looking for his brother.

The long stretch between the flashback and the moment when Victor Crowley reappears is filled with dialogue that, as with HATCHET and FROZEN, isn't as funny or engaging as it's evidently meant to be. When the kill scenes begin, it's a relief.

Because that's the reason for the film's existence: to showcase new and creative ways to kill people. On that score, HATCHET II delivers in spades (and chainsaws and hammers and more saws and sharp instruments and raw strength). There's a particularly nasty, outlandishly funny scene of coitus interruptus.

Danielle Harris and Tony Todd are appropriately feisty and gravely serious, respectively.

FROZEN demonstrated that Green had progressed as a filmmaker, but he ignores those lessons, forgets about building any kind of suspense or tension, and focuses exclusively and lovingly on the kill scenes. True, it's an answer to all the pathetic, weak-willed PG-13 horror flicks foisted upon the public by the major Hollywood studios. Considering Green's developing talent, it could have been more.

Still, it may be enough for many people. You know who you are. Don't forget the beer.
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