Hatchet III Movie Review
Written by Ted McCarthy
Directed by BJ McDonnell
Written by Adam Green
2013, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Danielle Harris as Marybeth
Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
Zach Galligan as Sheriff Fowler
Caroline Williams as Amanda
The Hatchet films are revered and reviled like few other horror franchises have been. There are those who think that they’re the second coming of the old-school ‘80s slasher film, paying homage to films like Friday the 13th and The Burning while carving out their own place in horror history with the invincible antagonist Victor Crowley. Then there are those who have panned them from the start as nothing more than an opportunity for self-indulgent fanboy Adam Green to show what a bigshot he is by assembling one of those casts that’s so filled with washed-up genre faces that it distracts you from the boring story, inane dialogue and gaping plot holes.
I fall somewhere in between those two camps. I wasn’t as bowled over as some fans by the first Hatchet, but I had fun with it (mostly due to the fact that I’ve liked Joel David Moore in almost everything he’s done – see “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein” in Chillerama). It wasn’t the smartest horror movie, nor the most clever, but it was clear that it wasn’t trying to be, and I appreciated that along with the fact that Green amped the gore up to a level I hadn’t seen in a film in a while. Conversely, I didn’t hate Hatchet II with the ire that so many fans did and really didn’t see it as anything much better or worse than the original. And again, the incessant cascade of blood and guts kept my mind off the relative idiocy of the story and its characters.
Unfortunately, now the magic is gone, and Hatchet III has crossed into that dreaded franchise territory where people start throwing around words like “needless,” “tired,” and “cash grab.” Much like the second film picked up at the exact moment that the original ended, Hatchet III picks up as Marybeth (again played by Danielle Harris) is pumping shotgun shells point-blank into the face of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) until his head is nothing more than gooey paste. Then, covered head to toe in the blood and guts of several dead people, she marches into the local police station carrying Crowley’s scalp and confesses to the town sheriff (Zach Galligan, who, if you can’t place him, was in Gremlins) that she’s killed him. Clearly the cops are reluctant to believe her story, so Marybeth is locked up while the swamp massacre is investigated. She’s soon sprung, though, by Amanda (Caroline Williams, who, if you can’t place her, was in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), a local reporter who has been somewhat disgraced by her pursuit of the Crowley legend. Amanda believes Crowley cannot be killed conventionally, and is cursed to return to his original form every night, no matter how dead he might seem. But naturally, due to her lineage, Marybeth is the only person who can destroy him once and for all. So one of the deputies releases the mass murder suspect, and they go on a road trip. Meanwhile, back in the swamp, the local Five-O, along with some crack special forces team led by Derek Mears (who played Jason in the Friday remake), gets served up as a fresh batch of victims for the newly reanimated Crowley.
On paper, and even re-reading it myself, this actually doesn’t sound all too bad. Problem is, it’s so boring, and a lot of it might hinge on Adam Green’s absence from the director’s chair. While he penned the script (and makes the same brief cameo that he made in parts one and two), directing duty was passed to BJ McDonnell. Who’s that, you ask? He was the camera operator on Hatchet and Hatchet II. Far be it from me to knock the guy strictly based on that, but I think when Green was directing from his own script, the results were a lot more enjoyable. He was also able to cull better performances from his actors (though they were by no means award-worthy). But other than a surprise appearance by Sid Haig that was the laugh highlight of the movie, the rest of the actors range from fair and watchable (Galligan) to just straight up painful (Williams…I mean, wow). Even the gore’s become stale and somehow just looks cheaper. And if I can complain about the gore in a movie where limbs are ripped off and bodies are literally sawed in half, that’s really saying something.
All in all, it doesn’t look like the actors and filmmakers had as much fun making Hatchet III as they did making the first two. And consequently, we can’t have nearly as much fun watching it. The film has the same kind of abrupt cut ending, so let’s hope that they’re not already setting up us for part four.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.