Sometimes you just want to see somebody take a belt sander to the face. That’s pretty much the crowning achievement of Hatchet, a trashy low-budget horror film that delivers on every one of its meager promises. For people who miss the early-’80s heyday of the slasher film, Hatchet will seem like a gift from the horror-movie gods; for everyone else, it’ll at least be a fun way to kill 80 minutes.
Writer-director Green offers just enough setup for the audience to have a vested interest in which characters get killed, but he doesn’t waste any time in getting his protagonists stranded in a swamp just outside New Orleans while taking a boat tour.
The group includes our nominal heroes, a pair of college buddies cutting loose at Mardi Gras, along with a couple of middle-aged tourists, a softcore porn director and his two subjects, a faux-Southern tour guide and a mysterious girl who, of course, knows the secret to just what is lurking in the mysterious bayou.
Not that it’s a particularly tantalizing secret—as anyone might guess, there’s a homicidal monster hiding out there, complete with a silly back story and a fondness for the titular implement of dismemberment. Again, Green gives the audience enough to get invested in the plot without getting tripped up by confusing twists or excessive exposition. As the hideous Victor Crowley (played by Kane Hodder, best known as Jason in several of the Friday the 13th movies) plows through his victims, Green stages plenty of inventive and incredibly gory deaths, including the aforementioned use of the belt sander.
There’s nothing revolutionary about Hatchet; with its simplistic plot and cameos from horror legends Robert Englund and Tony Todd, it’s a deliberate throwback to the uncomplicated slasher movies of yore. But Green re-creates the style with affection and a knack for building suspense. The acting is above average, the bits of comic relief are actually funny, and multiple limbs are severed in highly graphic fashion. What more could you ask for?
Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab
Directed by Adam Green