Wednesday, April 30, 2008

HATCHET: Movie Review #10

HATCHET (2007)

When a movie claims to be "old school American horror," is the director preparing us for a terrible plot enhanced with unrealistic kill scenes and splattered with enough fake blood to fill Crystal Lake to the shoreline? Apparently so, because in the case of Adam Green's Hatchet, we are blessed with all of the above, and then some . . .

After watching Grandma's Boy over a hundred times, I found it difficult to take lead role Joel David Moore seriously ("Adios terd nuggets!"), but guest appearances by horror legends like Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th, who holds down the role of Victor Crowley here), Robert Englund (the one & only Freddy Krueger), and Tony Todd (Candyman) pick up the slack where Moore lacks.

The cast is rounded out by Mercedes McNab (fun fact: also the little Girl Scout from the Addams Family movie) who flashes enough tits in the movie along with her hot brunette sidekick to earn the film an R-rating. Worth mentioning here is Green's brilliant use of gratuitous (and pointless) nudity, taking it to another level by having the girls drop their tops on command right into the camera, with not a single sex scene to justify it.

Plot: a group of friends travel down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and end up on a haunted swamp tour (led by Asian actor Parry Shen and his hilariously put-on down-south accent). After their boat starts to sink, the group is left to survive in the woods of local legend Victor Crowley, aka "Hatchetface," who rips and tears his way through them one by one. My personal favorite is the gas-powered sandblaster to the face - power tools make for such great murder weapons! After all, the use of just a "hatchet" would have been boring, right?

A proper tribute to the 80's slasher genre indeed, Hatchet plays out like it was made 20 years ago, but with the latest gore and camera effects to remind you it's not 1988. Humor laces the entire plot and keeps the film fun, but unfortunately lessens some of the scares. Even the kill scenes are funny - while watching the blood splatter you can tell there is a film crew throwing buckets of blood against the trees from the sidelines (the special features reveal the actual number of gallons of fake blood used in the film). It's truly refreshing to see a director bring back the slasher elements that made the 80's so much fun, and do it properly. We needed a new horror mascot, and while Victor Crowley isn't nearly as cool as Jason or Freddy, it's a step in the right direction, and makes up for the pathetic mess that Leslie Vernon left in Behind The Mask (2006) one year prior.

The special features on the DVD show you a side of film making we rarely get to see - the upfront honesty of a young director and his crew. Apparently the trailer was shot during a day-time tour of a New Orleans swamp, holding the camera low to the water and capturing alligators swimming by, then editing the innocent footage to have a horror feel. The trailer is narrated by a little girl with a slight lisp, which creates an eerie vibe that could never have been projected by a Hollywood actress. The trailer itself left alot to the imagination, and internet buzz caused the film to get picked up and funded. A truly amazing, DIY story for sure, and Adam Green's sincerity in the behind the scenes footage is inspiring to young horror fans everywhere.

The Big Toe Blog rates Hatchet one of the best horror films of 2007.

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