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HATCHET (2006)

Directed by Adam Green
Written by Adam Green
Starring Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Joel Murray, Joleigh Fioravanti, Richard Riehle, Patrika Darbo, Robert Englund, Joshua Leonard, Tony Todd, John Carl Buechler, & Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
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There are those who consider the first HATCHET film to be a classic and I understand why folks would see it in this way. The film is a fantastic homage to some of my favorite films of the past, mainly the FRIDAY THE 13TH films. I understand why the younger generation would latch on to HATCHET as I did to FRIDAY THE 13TH growing up. It contains a monosyllabic man-brute disposing of teen and twenty somethings in creative and gory ways—which was the same reason why I was attracted to FRIDAY THE 13TH in my reckless youth. Or at least one of the reasons.

At the same time, I understand the ire some feel towards this series as being less derivative and intended as a homage and more of a copycat of a subgenre of movies from twenty years ago without adding much to it. I see what those folks mean as well. Adam Green, while making a very engaging and funny film, has also made just a straight up slasher film. No depthy comments. No thematic plunges. Just a guy going around killing people.

And while I like depthy horror, I also have an appreciation for horror that is proud to be what it is, and for the most part Adam Green made a movie in HATCHET that wallows in blood and gore like a baby in a rain puddle. For that, I can’t help but be endeared to this film. It’s not the most original at all. In fact, the story probably falls towards the bottom of the totem pole behind the gore, the boobs, the humor, and the violence. But looking back on some of those films such as MEAT CLEAVER MASSACRE, HUMONGOUS, THE BURNING and the like, story doesn’t rank too high in those films either. So in terms of story, I’d lump HATCHET right in there with the other killer brute in the woods stories from those bygone days. But with so many films with found footage, zombie, and whatever as the central monster trying to be meta-textual, it’s refreshing to see one that is what it is and that’s it.

And what it is, is a gory, funny, good time. The humor works most of the time, mainly because the cast is made of comedic character actors and genre superstars. Seeing GRANDMA’S BOY’s Joel David Moore play the nerd turned hero is fun. It’s also fun seeing actors you wouldn’t expect in a horror film such as Joel Murray, Richard Riehle, and Patrika Darbo meet their untimely demise. At the same time, the HATCHET series tradition is that it is a veritable who’s who in horror with Freddy himself Robert Englund, BLAIR WITCH PROJECT’s Joshua Leonard, Candyman Tony Todd, and horror effects and FRIDAY THE 13TH IV director John Carl Buechler all in prominent roles. Green is the guy who goes to all of the horror cons and looks at these B-listers as superstars and casts them in roles they normally don’t play.

Not the case for Kane Hodder who plays Victor Crowley, the man swinging the titular hatchet. Hodder shows that despite the fact that he was looked over for the last few FRIDAY THE 13TH installments, he still has what it takes to make a man brute monster come to life as he gives Crowley a fantastic presence with little or no lines at all. A shrug of the shoulders, a tilt of the head, a blink or a nod and Hodder is able to make this monster as formidable as Jason ever was.

In the end, I believe those going in thinking there is going to be some kind of commentary on the genre will only lead to disappointment. If you watch this film just to have a great time seeing old faces and watching them get slaughtered in disturbing and disgusting ways, you’re most likely going to buy into this series which feels more at home with the slasher films of the 80’s than today’s horrors.