HATCHET is the best Slasher film to come out in the last thirty years -- at least according to creator Adam Green. There is no mistaking his love and enthusiasm for the genre, but HATCHET fails to live up to its own hype. Deep within the swamps of the Louisiana bayou, a tour boat filled with passengers crashes near the home of the legendary Victor Crowley, a deformed boy that was killed years ago but who continues to haunt the swamplands. Unfortunately for this group of teens, Victor Crowley lives, and he has an ax to grind with anyone who crosses into his domain!
Green clearly understands the classic conventions of the Slasher film, and better yet, he understands what most Slasher fans want: a ton of gore and even more gratuitous nudity. The problem is that HATCHET only delivers on these two superficial levels, and fails to bring a unique story, interesting characters, or even a steady pace. It starts strong enough with two incredibly violent deaths, but the plot plods on with only mild hints at humor and no kills. Finally, when the teens approach Crowley's house in the woods, things pick up dramatically (at least in the gore department). One character is hacked in half before his wife has her head ripped apart from her jaw in a gush of blood! From there, limbs fly, faces are sanded off, and heads are crushed before Crowley can finally be stopped... Or so it seems...
If the gruesome displays had only been spread out more evenly throughout the film, HATCHET may have at least been a more entertaining watch, but it takes far too long to get into the action with too little payoff. Minor things like the horribly artificial lighting also distract from the events on screen, although Joel Moore and Deon Richmond do their best to keep the audience involved. Kane Hodder also returns with another menacing villain as Victor Crowley, but what Green fails to realize is that there is just no marketability in a big misshapen monster. Without a hockey mask or a red and green sweater to sell come Halloween, Crowley just becomes another faceless killer trailing behind Cropsey and Madman Marz.
Considering this was only his first film, most Horror fans will be willing to forgive many of the film's weaknesses based on Green's inexperience, but HATCHET is a guilty pleasure at best.
If you liked HATCHET, check out:
LAID TO REST, THE HAZING, THE CONVENT.