Hatchet II (2010)

The original Hatchet was a small-budget bloodbath with a lot of heart. It was violent enough to merit an NC-17 rating when it first came out in 2006 and successful enough to get the sequel treatment and an unrated theatrical release in 2010, beginning with midnight screenings in select cities today. I was one of three lonely little nerds at just such a screening and, while there’s still plenty of slashing, screaming and spraying, the franchise looks to be well on its way to a much more permanent death than its unkillable villain will ever face.

I smuggle in my own popcorn and candy - does that make me a snack pirate?

What’s weird is the first one did a great job with limited resources, and the producers managed to attract a nice smattering of character actors like Richard Riehle and Joel Moore, as well as a great group of genre-significants like Robert Englund, Josh Leonard, and the lovely and funny Mercedes McNab of Buffy fame. I saw the first Hatchet at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006 and had a chance to listen to director Adam Green’s Q&A afterward. I was really impressed with his mission to create a pure, old-fashioned American horror movie, in contrast to the torture flicks and foreign remakes that seemed to dominate the landscape at the time.

Flash forward a few years and several million dollars in profits later: instead of a cast of similar quality to that of the first film we get a gang of nobodies, most of whom are giving it their all but still generally falling short. Even at 90 minutes the movie is way too long, prone to extreme bouts of exposition (and re-exposition, in case you missed it the first time) and lame attempts to develop characters through what I guess is meant to be witty badinage. But you don’t go to a movie called Hatchet II for wit, amiright?

The story: In the first Hatchet a group of tourists, revelers and assorted other characters board a swamp boat tour out of New Orleans. They take a wrong turn and wind up in the backyard of the monstrously deformed Victor Crowley, who was supposedly killed decades ago by his father in a tragic house fire/accidental hatchet-to-the-face kind of deal. But of course he’s still alive, strong as the Hulk and plenty pissed. He proceeds to butcher everyone except the beautiful but surly Marybeth, who makes it all the way to the final twist before finding herself in Crowley’s clutches, presumably about to meet her demise as well.

But there was more money to be made so the sequel picks up at that exact moment and Marybeth (Danielle Harris replacing Tamara Feldman, who appears to have become a mainstay of the WB or UPN or the CW or whatever the fuck that channel is called) makes a quick escape thanks to the ol’ eye poke maneuver. With the help of hammy Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd, a/k/a the Candyman, whose characters always seem to inexplicably know the rules surrounding any given film’s paranormal villain) she teams up with a bunch of grizzled gator hunters on a mission to go back into the swamp and kill Crowley. It’s a complete ripoff of Aliens, except instead of kick-ass colonial marines in space we get chubby rednecks in the woods. In answer to the two questions you’re probably asking: yes, they agree that the best plan is to split up and yes, lots of them get ground into bloody little bits. Also, there are no less than six real, live lady boobs sprinkled throughout the movie.

Empty house

Probably had something to do with the threat of hurricane force winds and rain but I was still surprised at the low turnout. Thank god for the two drunk dudes that showed up a minute later...

Biggest letdown: A sequel is supposed to be bigger than the original, and this is especially true when it comes to gory movies. Hatchet II doesn’t disappoint in that regard: plenty of people get power tooled to their gruesome ends. Even the belt sander makes a return appearance. But whereas the kills in the first one were more or less stylish and carried off with a sense of humor, here they take way too long to develop and I found myself yawning almost as much during the butchering as I did during the many interminable setup scenes wherein Green shamelessly ret-cons the Crowley myth to incorporate Marybeth’s family, making her now officially half Sigourney Weaver, half Jamie Lee Curtis.

Why you should watch: The practical effects are certainly impressive and it’s hard to recall a movie with as much blood and guts flying everywhere as this one, especially one that got a theatrical release. This film clearly had a bigger budget than its predecessor and it’s safe to say most of it was well spent on crafting things that make you go yuck.

Memorable Moment: I’d go into detail about one or more of the outlandish death scenes but that would be spoiling the movie’s best parts (although I will say I think they’re grossly overestimating the tensile strength of intestines). Instead I’ll point to a smart little reference to a legend from a hunter’s hometown about another supernatural killer named Leslie Vernon. That gave me a decent chuckle. (If you don’t get the joke, go rent Behind the Mask, you’ll thank me.) Also enjoyable: director Adam Green’s cameo appearance barfing on a New Orleans sidewalk. Sadly it’s all too apt a metaphor for the movie as a whole.

Choice quote: “Welcome to Reverend Zombie’s House of Voodoo. Help yourself to a complimentary Chips Ahoy.”

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11 Responses to “Hatchet II (2010)”

  1. Love the blog. Your literary talents should make mom’s heart melt. It took a bit of reading, but I finally get “Nicability” and its roots, and no, it’s not a Nicaraguan travel company.

  2. I know I forgot to invite you when I saw “Drag Me To Hell” – but I totally would have accompanied you to this one. No need to watch alone dude. Always up for a cheeseball horror flick, especially after you hijacked my Netflix account with a few oldie good ones.

  3. Natalie Kaire Says:

    Re: snack pirating, I think you’d be a snack pirate if you were stealing other people’s candy… And since you brought this in yourself… In a Ziploc bag… (I like your Ziploc bag). But I’d go for sour patch kids over M&M’s any day. Wait, are those the new pretzel M&M’s? I have to think about this…

  4. This just in from CNN.com: “AMC Pulls Slasher Film ‘Hatchet II'” (http://popwatch.ew.com/2010/10/04/hatchet-2-amc-pulled/?hpt=T2)

    Why would a major theater chain pull a movie mere days after it opens? There’s only one logical conclusion: You only gave it one “quality” cone. I hope you’re happy with yourself, Adam.

    • thanks for the great link jason, that’s going up on the main site! it’s a terrible tragedy because it was something extremely rare: an unrated theatrical horror release. but they squandered the opportunity and you reap what you sow, knowhaddamean?

  5. […] long, Hatchet II If you’re one of the four and a half people that read my review, you probably saw this coming: Hatchet II has been pulled from theaters after a dismal […]

  6. […] Hatchet II – A crappy sequel to a promising independent slasher flick. The unrated theatrical release was gone too soon. […]

  7. […] climate, what better movie could I select than Frozen? I was pretty hard on director Adam Green for Hatchet II, so I thought it only fair to take a look at his stripped down suspense thriller and see what he […]

  8. […] graphic horror movies in recent memory. Eschewing outrageous, creative kills (lookin’ at you, Hatchet II), HC2 keeps it relatively simple with gun and knife, but displays everything – and I mean […]

  9. […] there weren’t any über-gory movies this year. I never realized how much I relied on the Hatchet movies. The Revenant was up there too but that movie […]

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