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STUDIO: Dark Sky Films
RUNNING TIME: 86 Minutes
- Hatchet 2- Behind the Screams
- TV Spot
- Radio Spot
All (marginally) successful horror films must have at least one sequel.
Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Parry Shen, Tom Holland. Directed by Adam Green.
Picking up right where we left off, Marybeth Dunstan (now played by Danielle Harris instead of Tamara Feldman, who must have been too busy having no personality on Gossip Girl) is getting the shit choked out of her by Victor Crowley. After she gives him a stern eye gouging, she escapes and makes her way back to New Orleans to talk to Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who sent the ill fated boat she was on towards Crowley in the original. After Marybeth blackmails Reverend Zombie into helping her, they get together a fairly large posse of rednecks and roustabouts to head into the swamp for a little big game Crowley huntin’. Bloodshed and mayhem ensue. Also, someone gets killed by a belt sander.
I have a special place in my heart for the original Hatchet, even though it’s kind of a piece of shit. I rented it the day it came out and watched it three times before taking it back, but haven’t seen it since. I watched it again before reviewing Hatchet 2 and the gore still made me giggle like a fool, but I had trouble getting over how terrible the makeup for Victor Crowley was. At the best of times it was silly looking and at the worst of times it was rubbery and sad; reminiscent of the very worst The Asylum ever put out. Even through that, I still like Joel David Moore, Kane Hodder, Richard Riehle, Mercedes McNab and Tony Todd enough to give it a pass. Plus, the kill where Crowley puts his hands in the chick’s mouth and pulls in opposing directions, ripping her face off, is still one of the best slasher kills of all time.
With the controversy surrounding the pulling of Hatchet 2 from theaters (which it seems like half the sources say was because it wasn’t making money and the other half saying it was too violent and shocking), I was pretty hyped for this one. On several counts it lived up to my self perpetuating hype machine, but on quite a few other counts it failed miserably. But, like the first, I have to give it a pass because of how gleefully retarded the film is and how much it ups the gore factor from the first movie. There were moments of gore so profoundly gruesome that it made me feel a little disgusted with myself. It was like those fucking teenagers from Funny Games were staring at me, silently shaking their heads and judging me for allowing this film’s presence in my home.
The biggest problem in the film is probably Danielle Harris’ lead performance. She just comes across as really shrill and annoying. I thought she was good in Rob Zombie’s Halloween films (and in Halloween 4 & 5), but I think the script to this movie might do a bit of a disservice to her. From the first minute of the film to it’s last, she is either running from or towards Victor Crowley, screaming and crying the whole way. Since she’s stepping into someone else’s role from the original, the film kinda feels like we’re jumping into a movie halfway through it. There’s just never any chance for her to create some real character development or invest us in her fate. Plus, her character’s whole purpose is to go out and get the bodies of her father and brother, while dealing out some bayou justice to Mr. Crowley. I know she loves her father and brother very much, but only because she cries a lot while telling me. The only experience we have with the other members of the Dunstan family are in the pre-credit sequence from the first one, and they just came across as a couple of dumbass alligator poachers. We really needed a little more human interest to be invested in that story. Maybe a flashback to the family getting an ice cream together or setting raccoon traps or something.
Tony Todd is in fine form as Reverend Zombie, the man responsible for sending tourists into the path of Crowley for a quick buck. He plays the role as a bit of an enigma (until the end), never allowing you to land on one side or another about whether he’s evil or just a giant bag of douche. His dulcet tones had me so soothed I found myself thinking that, if his voice had a vagina, I would ask it out to somewhere classy but then possibly get aggressive with it in the back of my van afterwards. Todd is easily the acting highlight of the film, especially compared to Harris and all of the many redshirts which populate the film.
Joel David Moore’s humorous everyman kept me interested in what he was doing in the first one, enough so that I partially ignored how the first hour was mostly poorly written dick and fart jokes and Deon Richmond acting a fool. Hatchet 2 doesn’t have an audience substitute, so there’s no one to root for and no one whose death is remotely effecting. When Marybeth swam back up to the boat at the end of the original Hatchet, I was sad when she found Moore’s character with his arm torn off and coughing up blood. In this one, she doesn’t even mention him. All she talks about are going to pick up her father and brother’s bodies and she really doesn’t give a shit who’s killed while she achieves her goal.
Worst of all, they fill in the blanks of the origin of Victor Crowley with a generic riff off of Freddy Krueger’s and Jason Voorhees’ respective histories. Victor was born to a nice man and woman in a cabin in the woods. The boy is born so wickedly retarded that the mother dies instantly and the father vows to raise him in the cabin, away from prying eyes and those that would mock him and beat him with reeds. Years later, while Victor is alone in the house on Halloween, a few kids start throwing rocks through the window at him, accidentally knocking a lantern over and catching the shack aflame. As Crowley runs around the burning shack screaming (he’s way too retarded and deformed to know how to open the door) Papa Crowley comes running up with a hatchet and starts hacking away at the door. The hatchet bursts through the door and cleaves Victor in the noggin, killing him deader than Tara Reid’s vaginal walls. Now Victor Crowley’s ghost roams the swamps, reliving the fear of that night over and over again. In a twist no one saw coming (and by no one I mean each and every person who ever lived) two of the kids turn out to be young Reverend Zombie and Marybeth’s dad, Sampson. So, Crowley’s getting his revenge on the men and their families who burned down his cabin and fucked up his weekend. I know that Adam Green wears his influences on his sleeves, but that’s the least original origin story since Jesus Christ. I don’t think it would have taken too much effort to come up with something a little less soggy than Nightmare on Friday the 13th… with power tools.
If you’re a gore hound none of the bad shit will matter though, because this flick brings the sauce. I don’t want to give away any of the good stuff, but the violence in this movie is one of a kind. Some of the grue in this is so gross that I felt a little queasy and had to look away, which I haven’t done since Irreversible. Since the film never takes itself remotely seriously, none of the violence really sticks with you, which is good since, if it did, this one might twist you up for a bit. Victor’s final kill is one of the most gleefully fucked up things I’ve ever seen and partially makes up for all of the dumb shit in the first hour.
Hatchet 2 could have been a lot better, but it also could have been a lot worse. I know for a fact that Adam Green can do better because he did with Spiral. He almost did better with Frozen (which ties into this film in a really clever way) as well, but he just couldn’t sustain the tension for the full 90 minutes. Hatchet 2 is a guilty pleasure with extra emphasis on the guilt, but there are some truly sublime moments that could have only come from someone in love with the genre and those are the kind of people I want making horror movies. I’m sick of cash grab genre films, which this one is most decidedly not. It has heart and a plucky can do attitude. Dare I say… it has moxie. It’s flawed and kinda shitty, but also wonderfully rotten and grosser than hell. Watch this with some friends and some libations and you’ll laugh your asses onto their faces.
There’s a half an hour long featurette that slams home the fact that Adam Green is a huge horror fan and all around nice guy. He made this movie exclusively for the naysayers of the first one who thought there should have been more gore and a bigger body count. In that regard, the film is an unqualified success. He brought back every last member of the original Hatchet crew and shows off some of the storyboards and dailies of the shoot. It’s a nice featurette that really goes a long way towards making you appreciate the film even more. There are also some trailers for the film and a radio ad. I was hoping for a commentary but I’m used to disappointment.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars