Joel Moore - Ben
Tamara Feldman - Mary Beth
Deon Richmond - Marcus
Mercedes McNab - Misty
Parry Shen - Shawn J
oleigh Fioreavanti - Jenna
Joel Murray - Shapiro
Kane Hodder - Victor Crowley/Mr. Crowley
Genre - Horror/Slasher
Running Time - 83 Minutes
Score - 3 Howls Outta 4
The slasher film was all the rage during the 1980s. Although many credit 1978's HALLOWEEN [which is NOT a slasher film] as the film to really kick the sub-genre into gear [even though many films before that one could be classified as a slasher film], it wasn't until 1980's FRIDAY THE 13TH where movie studios saw a cash cow where they could make low budget films and get massive profits out of them. Films like A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, MANIAC, THE BURNING, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, SLEEPAWAY CAMP, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, and SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT kept sprouting up every month, just to feed the horror fans with masked or deformed killers murdering teens in the most vicious ways possible. However, as the 1980s ended and the 1990s started, the slasher film was pretty much seen as a fad and milked for what it was. Now we have an endless supply of unneeded remakes, "torture porn", and PG-13 "horror" films that satisfy no one but greedy studio heads.
So it's no surprise to say that HATCHET, directed and written by Adam Green, is a refreshing change of pace from what's considered "modern horror". The advertisement for the film shows and says it all: a hatchet with blood dripping from it with a tagline below it that reads "Old School American Horror". As you guys know, I'm an Old School Soldier. And anything that presents itself as "Old School" is gonna get my attention. It's a ballsy move since horror fans still have our old favorites to watch whenever we need that slasher fix, but HATCHET attempts to bring back those glory days by splattering enough blood and body parts from stereotypical boneheaded characters who are not afraid to have sex and flaunt their body parts. It doesn't totally succeed and will not be considered a classic like HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH, but HATCHET is definitely an entertaining flick.
Ben (Joel David Moore) has just broken up with his girlfriend and taken to Mardi Gras by his best friend Marcus (Deon Richmond). While Marcus is having the time of his life, Ben is tired of getting drunk and staring at breasts all day. Instead, he wants to join a bunch of New Orleans tourists on some haunted swamp tour. Marcus, reluctant all the way, decides to join his friend. As the two travel on the tour in the dead of night, the boat hits a rock and everyone on the tour is left stranded in the middle of the woods. Apparently, they're now in the territory of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), a deformed legend who apparently died at the hands of his father. However, Victor Crowley is very much alive, ready to murder anyone who gets in his way.
HATCHET considers itself a product of the slasher sub-genre and it definitely shows. We get the unstoppable monster who seems to have more lives than a cat. We have characters that are all pretty much slasher stereotypes. We have have the woodland setting and an ending that's pretty much a mix of both FRIDAY THE 13TH and THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE [kind of left me flat actually]. This is a silly, over-the-top slasher film through and through.
There is a difference though: the characters, while stereotypes, were actually more fleshed out than your usual slasher fare. They're not three-dimensional as one would like, but they all have a role and play it to a tee. It helps that the script, written by Adam Green, actually has dialogue that's most of the time witty and kind of funny. Mercedes McNab's dumb blonde character in particular, made me laugh at how stupid she was. And Deon Richmond's Marcus was made more to be just the Token Black Guy. One, he was actually funny because he wasn't made to be some kind of joke. It actually blended in with everyone else's dialogue and never seemed to bring attention to itself, which was good. Plus he wasn't the first one made to die, so I appreciated that. I liked the dialogue a lot in this film, because it felt believable for the most part.
The story itself was nothing original. It was pretty much any slasher film that takes place in the woods kind of flick, but the woods are always a scary place so it still works. There are no major twists and turns. It's very cliched and very predictable, but aren't slasher films usually cliched and predictable? So it didn't bother me too much.
The gore, however, was pretty mean-spirited. This isn't your modern PG-13 flick. Arms got ripped off. People got impaled. Heads were twisted like a homage for THE EXORCIST. Some people got mutilated with power tools. All in good fun, I say. This is what a slasher film looks like, not that crap that called itself PROM NIGHT (2008). John Carl Buechler, who did work on several FRIDAY THE 13TH films and even directed one of them [THE NEW BLOOD], does an awesome job here. I loved it and I know other fans of this genre loved it too.
We also get boobies! Yay! We get some ladies who show off their ta-tas during the Mardi Gras scenes, plus Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti show theirs off as well! I was definitely in "Harmony", if you know what I mean. They even made out too. HLA! HLA! Why can't more horror films show fans what they want to see?
Adam Green directed a fine film here. His pacing was off at times, especially when the characters would bicker for minutes to get the point across, but I pretty much dug what he brought to the table. No quick cuts. No shaky-cam. Just nice ol' fashioned horror direction that showed what it needed to show, which it did quite well. I do wish there was more tension and suspense inserted into HATCHET, because things just happened without any major build up for the most part. Plus the film wasn't really all that scary, which kind of sucked. But as a homage to slasher films of the past, Green did nice work.
The acting was actually very good here. Joel Moore as Ben was not the stereotypical hero at all. He was tall, lanky, and a geek. But it worked because he was likeable, funny, and easy to relate to. Plus he had brains too, which was nice. Tamara Feldman as Mary Beth was good as well. Her character lacked some depth, but her performance made up for it and I bought her act. Deon Richmond as Marcus made me laugh while still being credible at the same time. He's come a long way from THE COSBY SHOW. Mercedes McNab also made me laugh as dumb blonde Misty. If anyone has a negative I.Q., it's probably this chick. Kane Hodder was also pretty cool as Victor Crowley and as his father. No Jason Voorhees, but I still dug the act. And cool cameos from Robert Englund and Tony Todd. Pretty good cast here.
THE FINAL HOWL
While never truly capturing the feel of an old-school slasher, HATCHET is probably the closest of any horror film that has attempted such a feat. It has boobs. It has gore. It has bushes that move. It has stereotypical people that are fun to watch. Plus, it's rated R! Like a HoRRoR film is supposed to be! For 83 minutes, you can do a whole lot worse than HATCHET. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm cancelling my trip to the next Mardi Gras. Damn swamp tours...