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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 162: Hatchet

Can I axe you a question?

Slasher movies are the go-to genre for fast and easy horror. The stories aren't complicated, they easy and cheap to make, and they give you an excuse to watch horrible acts of violence. They're loaded with blood and creative ways of killing people. Slashers bring out the sickest in all of us. They had their heydays in the 70's and 80's, breeding countless sequels, holiday-based horror movies, and mediocre ripoffs. The slasher has become watered down with the increase in the popularity of horror movies so now is better than ever for the genre to make a comeback.

Hatchet is a 2006 slasher starring Joel Moore (Dodgeball, Bones) as Ben and Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th, Hack!) as Victor Crowley. Ben is in New Orleans for Mardi Gras with his friends, but is bored with the partying. He is joined by his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond, Scream 3, Not Another Teen Movie) on his search for a ghost tour in the swamps of the city. The join a boat tour led by the over-the-top Shawn (Parry Shen, The New Guy, The Poseidon Adventure) joined by a Midwestern couple named Jim (Richard Riehle, Office Space, Joe Dirt) and shannon, two ditzy softcore porn actresses, their sleazy “director”, and a mysterious woman named Marybeth (Tamara Feldman, Gossip Girl, Rez Bomb). It becomes apparent that Shawn has no idea what he is doing and the boat gets stuck. Jim is badly bitten in the leg by an alligator. They make it to land and try to walk for help, but are badly lost. Marybeth reveals that she has a gun and joined the tour in order to find her father (Robert Englund) and her brother who went missing in the swamp two days ago. She talks about the legend of Victor Crowley, a deformed boy from the swamp. Local children set his house on fire and his father (also Kane Hodder) tried to rescue his son by chopping at the door with a hatchet, accidentally hitting Victor in the face with it, killing him. Legend has it that Victor or his spirit roams the swamp looking for vengeance. As the group wonders the swamp, they come across Victor's old house. That's when the killing begins as a full-grown Victor terrorizes the group in various brutal ways. The group is soon whittled down to just Ben, Marcus, and MaryBeth. Will they be able to stop this killing machine and make it back to the city?

Ahh! Rush Limbaugh naked!

The movie bills itself as “Old School American Horror.” Maybe the movie does in spirit, but the execution is a bit questionable. The story definitely fits within the realm of old slasher films: Get a bunch of people into an isolated area and have them killed of in various ways by a killer that possibly has super natural powers. I can't help but compare Hatchet to Friday the 13th. Victor Crowley is very similar to Jason Vorhees. He's a big, deformed monster that was harassed as a child, killed in an accident, and seemingly cannot be killed. It also helps that Kane Hodder, who has played Jason in multiple movies, also plays Victor Crowley. We don't meet Victor until about 45 minutes into the movie, which was a bit of a disappointment.

Despite not being terribly original, the movie goes more for extreme violence than plot or story. There is plenty of blood and lots of gore in Hatchet. There are some good, creative deaths that keep things interesting when the story isn't. The movie is very dim and makes a few scenes difficult to see. There is also a bit of nudity, practically a requirement when it comes to slasher films. There is also a good amount of humor in the movie. When I say the movie has humor, I don't mean like fratboy dick and fart jokes or black humor, I mean legitimately funny writing and acting. Parry Shen is particularly funny, intentionally switching from a Cajun accent, to a stereotypical Asian accent, to an American one. The rest of the cast also put in a good performances that help carry the movie. There are also a number of small appearances by horror royalty such as Robert Englund and Tony Todd. They were nice touches and both roles were funny. 

Who wants cherry slushies?

Hatchet is a fun, over-the-top slasher that is aware of itself and doesn't care. There is enough violence and blood to keep horror fans smiling and a good amount of humor that was actually funny. The story is nothing special and didn't really get started until late in the movie. I would have liked more on-screen time with Victor Crowley to really build up who or what he is. The performances are good all around and director Adam Green gets some nice violent shots. While I can't say if Hatchet will be the start of a new slasher franchise, it's an entertaining, if simple, watch.


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