Hatchet (2006)

Directed By: Adam Green
Written By: Adam Green
Starring: Joel David Moore
  Tamara Feldman
  Kane Hodder
  Deon Richmond

In 2005, a teaser for an upcoming film did the rounds on the internet. It showed pictures of a swamp, various indecipherable noises and the voice of a little girl telling the story of a man named Victor Crowley. The response to the clip was positive and one year later the film, entitled Hatchet, was released at horror festivals and garnered a good reaction from the horror community. Since the noughties was the decade of the PG-13 horror, a rare R-rated horror film was sure to be exciting for the fans. And Adam Green, having been a lifelong horror fan, had finally fulfilled his dream of making an old-school R-rated slasher and along the way unintentionally created a horror franchise.

As a lifelong rock music fan I fell in love with the film during the opening credits, because no one ever (probably not even David Lynch) used a Marilyn Manson song this way and it just works; “The New Shit” accompanies the title sequence and from this moment you just know the film is going to be fun. I mean, when you watch a film and the first face you see in the film belongs to Robert Englund, you know it will be entertaining, and together with those opening credits it’s pretty much a done deal. The next great thing about the film is that Adam Green does not make the mistake of sinking prematurely into pure splatter and gore. While there isn’t much horror or blood in the first 40 minutes, the film comes up with comedic scenes which might feel slightly odd but are surprisingly funny and work within the context – especially the (pointless but fun) cameo by Tony “Candyman” Todd – pure eye-candy for horror fans. And if the viewer, by some miracle, doesn’t like the film by this point, my best advice would be to sit tight; because 50 minutes into the film, the group and the audience finally encounter the gruesome Victor Crowley (outstandingly performed by the real “Jason Voorhees”, Kane Hodder) – and it all kicks off.

From this point on, the pure horror starts, with literally buckets of blood splattering and flowing, extremities flying across the swampy backdrop…Every death surpasses the last one in this way and the film just gets better and better. Of course, the film is unrealistic but that seems to be the point. The death scenes are uber-violent and therefore genuinely thrilling and sometimes even funny. This was exactly Green’s plan; to distance the film from the all-too-common torture porn horror flicks and simply bring back old-school horror flair, to make horror films fun again.

The way that Green wrote the dialogue and characters is laudable (and makes up for what might have been a slow start), as is the fact that he kept the use of CGI to a minimum, instead working heavily with prosthetic FX. Green clearly knows the genre well and has the talent to project his love for horror films onto the film itself; Hatchet does not reinvent the genre but wins the fight against other modern horror films because of its nostalgic qualities – it’s clearly shot with heart and soul, not only for financial reasons. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously and there is always a place for a laugh.

All in all, Green delivers a worthy directional debut by making a film for his fellow horror fans and creating a highly enjoyable franchise that gives the people what they want – gore, comedy, and severed limbs.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

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