It is not normal to watch a slasher film while removing the ornaments from your tree. But, I guess this is how I signify that the holiday spirit is truly done for me. Nevertheless, sometimes a good old slasher/horror film is the greatest gift of all. Hatchet, directed by Adam Green and released on DVD this month, is a gift I want to return.
The total draw of this film is that it is based in New Orleans and Louisiana bayou country. Yes, I am a sucker for the familiar and a devotee of movies that support our local film industry. Also, it is always fun to criticize what people above the Mason-Dixon Line perceive as representative of Louisiana.
In Hatchet, there is the clichéd rendition of Mardi Gras. You know the one: Huge Ass Beers, cheap beads, trash and womens breasts. Although this may be true to a certain geography known as Bourbon Street, we know that there is so much more to Mardi Gras
Anyhow, Hatchet goes like this; a group of college boys travel down to Mardi Gras to make their friend forget about his ex. Along the way, the friend decides the frat boy drinking and breast viewing is not for him. What is more appealing to the friend is going into the Louisiana Bayou at night on a Haunted Swamp Tour. Once the audience is given a nice little walk through the true Quarter (not a studio set Quarter as represented in the Romanian filmed Dracula movies, based in our city), the two guys, who decide to go on the haunted tour, find their destination along with some of the characters who will join them on the tour. There is not much to tell at this point. Hatchet supplies all of the traditional slasher film characters without any of the originality of most low rate B-movies of its kind. In addition to your lead all-American guys, there is the mom and pop tourist types, the slutty girls, the mysterious local girl and the middle aged guy with a pension for porn.
To top off the lack of originality in script, the special effects were almost laughable. One scene where arms and/or a head is ripped off by the deranged local swamp legend, Victor Crowley, you can almost hear a motor generating the blood spurt. Once again, I am aware that all of this bloodletting could be tongue-in-cheek. But, as a film you cannot always have your cake and eat it too. You must commit to something. I was hoping that at least the director could commit to giving us a decent horror, black comedy or deceivingly well-made slasher film.
With having none of the criteria to support comedy or suspense, watching Hatchet is a nice distraction from the monotonous chore of storing away holiday decorations. Okay, so the best line in the whole movie is by one of the wanna-be starlets who yells, No bars! I hate the South, upon discovering her cell phone service does not work in the swamp. However, quick wit and kitsch are few and far between in this very sorry attempt to copy the slasher films of the early eighties. Victor Crowley, the deranged monster of Hatchet, will never have the repulsive appeal of a Jason Voorhees, Michael Meyers or especially a Freddy Krueger. Although, in the DVD extras, the director, Adam Green, tells the story of how the monster is never shown to the cast before the actual scenes are to be filmed. Thus, the director tries to capture a true moment of terror from the actor and the audience. However, there is really no suspense throughout Hatchet. In fact, the only moment of suspense is the ending. And, not to ruin it for everyone elseit is a complete rip off of the first Friday the 13th.
Generally, Hatchet is low on the laughs off a decent black comedy and even lower on the suspense of good horror. Hatchet is left as a bad portrayal of a once terrifying aspect of the original slasher films. Maybe, Ive lost my sense of humor. Maybe, I am unable to see the wit and playfulness of Hatchet as a spoof. Unfortunately, the greater spoof such as Simon Peggs zombie flick, Shaun of the Dead, is miles ahead of Hatchet in originality. Even the remakes of slasher films of the seventies such as last years , Black Christmas, achieves more than Hatchet in keeping the suspense alive in the most obvious and unoriginal places.