It's been a rough time over the past years in the realm of horror. It's been a time of overused CGI nonsense and piss-poor scripts that have saturated and is ultimately bleeding the genre of it's true bloody roots. Computer generated monster tosh, pathetically executed non-scary stalk and slasher movies and inevitably recycled, rehashed and ridiculous remakes. We need the likes of people such as Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Hills Have Eyes (2006)) and Neil Marshall (Dog soldiers, The Descent), amongst others, to help horror find it's way again. Whether that's back to basics or reinventing the genre completely who knows. But maybe it's time for writer/director Adam Green to lend a hand and help show us the way.
Hatchet is Adam Green's horror debut and it's clear to see this is a genuine labour of love. I'd read a lot about Hatchet in it's early pre-production days and to be honest was leaning very cynically towards the negative. Now and again you get the odd movie in production that bombards you with over abitious messages of 'this is going to be big' and 'finally a movie that gives classics such as Halloween a run for it's money'. These are big words for movies that bottom-line completely under perform and disappoint pretty much everyone. Hatchet though, is different entirely. Hatchet does perform, it does deliver. And boy it delivers well.
The story opens, post initial shocker kills of two genre cameoso's (I'll leave it at that), with friends Ben and Marcus roaming the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras season (yes there is tits. Yes there are a lot of tits). They soon find themselves embarking on a so-called swamp tour with a group of other characters only to find out that not only is the tour a little under-prepared and a little unreliable but may also be their last ticket before inevitably meeting their maker. They soon find themselves lost in the woodland and trapped in the nightmare that ensues. For they are not alone. Especially not with ghost(?)/super-being(?) type disfigured elephantitis draped nutjob hatchet wielder Victor Crowley.
Victor soon dispenses with characters left, right and center. Through some means that have to be seen to be truly appreciated. Yes, there is blood. This ain't no PG studio-stomped on modern horror flick. This is a blood-soaked, gore-fest of the highest quality of blood-soaking gore-festivities. Yet what makes this truly different and not just a vehicle for fx-guys trying to get on a payroll is that whilst limbs are flying and blood is washing the trees the humour and the laughs are plentiful.
I had heard Hatchet was a bit of a giggle and 9 times out of 10 my natural alarms are already buzzing in my ears. Is it a horror trying to be funny? In that case is the horror element the point of the joke and will it devalue the shocks and terror? Or is it a comedy trying to be scary? And in that case is it perfectly gory and nasty yet totally unfunny? Well it's neither, because a). it's scary, b). it's gory and c). it's hilarious. It never tries to be a spoof of slasher movies. It's a pure tribute to what the slasher movie was and still should be, yet has the comedic elements throughout to indicate that yes that's a f#cking maniac severing limbs all across the woods but hey shit happens!
There are some fine performances all round. The actors work so well together and not one character feels forced into the ensemble as they all gel brilliantly. The comic timing is fantastic in spite of the nature of the film and feels mostly thanks to the well written and well executed script. Gore hounds are going to lap this up, there is some real ingenuity and originality in all the death scenes. Some of those scenes take me right back to the excitement I felt when I first saw Peter Jackson's Braindead (Dead Alive (US Title)). Overall it's a great piece of work and we hope to see a sequel sooner rather than later! Kudos on the Hatchet Mr Green.