Hatchet III Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
DVD released by Metrodome Distribution
Directed by BJ McDonnell
Written by Adam Green
2013, 81 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Danielle Harris as Marybeth
Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
Zach Galligan as Sheriff Fowler
Caroline Williams as Amanda
With their film first introduced as an alternative to the franchised likes of Freddy, Jason and Michael Myers, Adam Green and the creators of Hatchet were very proud of the fact that it wasn't a remake, wasn't a sequel, and not a J-horror. That was seven years ago, and Victor Crowley has made some leeway in carving a name for himself as the next Freddy, Jason or Michael. I would certainly rather watch any of the Hatchet trilogy than anything the big names have done since Freddy vs Jason. Wait – wait a minute – trilogy?
I must confess, I found myself mildly disappointed with 2006's Hatchet. Despite an obvious love for the genre, fun script and excellent scenes of carnage and violence, its 84 minute runtime felt far too brief, Crowley's rampage over too soon. This was rectified a little in Hatchet 2, in which the bodycount was upped, the gore even crazier, and Tony Todd given a bigger role to play. And that, I assumed, was that. Seldom do the movies I love get sequels (where's my Punisher: War Zone II or Dredd 2(d), dammit?). Gladly, I was proven to be quite wrong. A Hatchet III and Wrong Turn 5 within a year of each other? Colour me one happy horror fan.
Imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that Hatchet III is the best yet. As with the previous film, it picks up at the exact moment it left off before. Finishing a gory showdown with Crowley, Marybeth drops the massive psychopath onto the blades of an equally massive chainsaw. Assuming him to be as dead as he looks, she returns to town, to report the incident to the local cops. As it happens, walking into a police station wielding a giant weapon and drenched in a man's blood is not the way to go if you want the law to take you seriously. Soon, she's locked in a cell while the police and SWAT team wander the Louisiana swamp, trying to figure out what happened. And then, suddenly, Crowley's corpse isn't such a corpse any more...
Despite it taking place in exactly the same swamp as the first and second film, Hatchet III still feels remarkably fresh. Well, telling the same story umpteen times hardly did Friday the 13th any harm, did it? The bodycount is upped yet again, with Crowley racking up an incredibly impressive number of kills within a matter of minutes. If some of the death sequences feel less inventive than usual, that's because they've been dialled back a little for brevity's sake. Dialled back, but not down. Hatchet III gives Evil Dead a run for the goriest film of 2013, with so much splatter being splashed over the screen that it's hard to keep track. Amidst it all, a whole host of familiar genre faces try to keep their heads while all around them are having theirs ripped off. There's Danielle Harris, Zach Galligan, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2's Caroline Williams, Derek Mears and, of course, Kane Hodder. We're treated to a showdown of the Voorheeses as Crowley faces off against Mears' SWAT leader, there's a cameo from yet another genre favourite, and even a couple of faces from Hatchet films past. The story may seem unambitious, but that just gives the action room to flow and the actors space to have fun.
As with the other films in the series, it's imperfect – the effects look slightly shonkier this time around, and it really could do with escaping the swamp at this point – but there's too much to love for any of its faults to be an issue. Williams and Galligan rock their roles as a journalist and her Sheriff ex-husband, and Hodder is clearly enjoying himself in the Crowley dungarees and makeup. First time director BJ McDonnell does a great job handling this sequel which, as with its predecessors, seems to end far too soon. Hopefully that means they're saving even more for a Hatchet 4 and 5. Long may the Crowley curse continue.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.