Monday, October 4, 2010

Film Review: Hatchet II (2010)

"Victor Crowley Lives Again"
Dark Sky Films

RATED: Uncut & Unrated
DIRECTOR: Adam Green
CAST: Dabielle Harris (Marybeth), Tony Todd (rev. Zombie), Kane Hodder (Victor Crowley/Thomas Crowley), Perry Shen (Justin), R.A. Mihailoff (Trent), Alexis Peters (Avery), Ed Aclerman (Cleatust)

FILM: Thank you to AMC Theatres for supporting unrated horror. From what I can tell this is the 1st unrated horror film to play in a major theatre chain since DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978). After the MPAA deemed the film NC17 Green and Dark Skiy Films stuck to their guns and went the unrated route. AMC Theatres after having seen the film offered a limited run. I hear that the Canadian AMC theatres had quite a time of it and had to pull the film from their theatres under threat of fines. I would also like to thank the awesome Dread Central from whom I won free tickets to the screening stemming from a Twitter contest. Upon arriving at the theatre there was an awesome lobby poster for the film but it was not listed on the theatre marquee, so how would anyone know that the film was playing let alone at what time? That was disappointing. Aside from my son and I there were only two other patrons in the theatre which could be attributed to the 5:45PM screening, I only hope the two later screening brought in more splatter fans.

UPDATE: Tuesday Otober 4th, 2010 - As of yesterday AMC announced they would be pulling the film from all AMC Theatre locations due to poor tcket sales. His statement to Entertainment Weekly about the decision can be foun here.

We return to the bloody bayou in HATCHET 2 mere seconds following the events of Hatchet as we find MaryBeth who this time around is portrayed by scream queen Danielle Harris of HALLOWEEN 4 (1988), HALLOWEEN (2007) fame barely escaping the clutches of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). She is assisted by grizzled local fisherman Jack Cracker who takes her to the relative safety of his cabin. Once there he realizes who she is and unceremoniously forces her at gunpoint to leave. Not willing to explain himself he tells her to speak with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) but she needs to get the Hell out now. Fearing that his involvement with her might bring the wrath of Crowley ...and he's right. Not minutes after she leaves Cracker is strangled and decapitated by his own bloody intestines, as his corpse spews blood against the wall opening credits roll to the sound of Ministry's "Just One Fix".
Marybeth makes her way back to Reverend Zombies voodoo shop and the Rev lays a slightly altered Victor Crowley origin story on us that implicates her family in the death of Crowley all those years ago. It's an interesting spin on the story and it's told in a flashback featuring Kane Hodder once again as Thomas Crowley. Hodder is called upon to act much more dramatically that we've seen him before, and he pulls it off relatively well. Reverend Zombie reluctantly agrees to return to the cursed swamp to recover the bodies of MaryBeth's father and brother as well as his lost tour boat. A hunting party of mercenary gator hunters is amassed and the motley crew head back into the swamp, however, Reverend Zombie has ulterior motives for helping MaryBeth which play out as the band of armed men enter Honey Island Swamp.

Short story shorter, this film freaking rocks! Hatchet 2 is a satisfying, self-indulgent, splatter-romp that pulls no punches. The kills are bloodier, the laughs are louder, the screams are longer and the cliches are full-on. You get power sanders to the skull, chainsaws to the balls, and one of the funniest decapitation during sex scenes you'll likely ever see. Green is a director capable of much more nuanced, tense, and well paced cinema as evidenced by the psycho-thriller SPIRAL (2007) and the newly released FROZEN (2010) but with Hatchet 2 he's having a blast and just rips into it giving tribute to the slasher films of the 80's with the glee and abandon of a horror-geek on steroids.

VERDICT: Hatchet 2 is the antidote to the unfulfilling PG13 films and remakes that shy away from blood and gore. If you've come for the splatter there's nothing a matter here folks, this one is thigh deep in entrails and viscera, you won't be disappointed. The story is overly simple  but no one is coming to HATCHET II expecting anything more or less. I hold Green up there with Ti West (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, CABIN FEVER 2) and Lucky McKee (RED, MAY, THE WOODS) as up and coming horror directors to watch, these guys are gonna be around for a while. Green is a true fan of the slasher genre and this sequel ramps up the blood & guts to the nth degree. How can you not love a film that begins with Ministry's "Just One Fix" and ends with Overkills "Old School", you cannot
 ***1/2 (3.5 Out of Five Stars)