Here’s how well the Hatchet series has stuck in my head. Before watching the third movie, I spent a good while trying to remember if I had ever seen the second movie. When I finally concluded that I had indeed watched the movie, I went and read a full plot synopsis of the movie online, and even then the whole thing didn’t ring a bell at all. I remembered literally nothing about that movie.
After having watched the third movie, I expect the exact same thing to happen again in a few years should a Hatchet IV be released.
The third movie takes place seconds after the last movie ends, with Victor Crowley (it’s a long story but basically all you need to know is that he’s a huge redneck ghost dude who haunts a swamp, tears people apart, and is played by Kane Hodder) having been shot point blank in the face by heroine Marybeth, played by Halloween’s Danielle Harris. Of course even having his face blown apart isn’t enough so Crowley gets back up, only to then be chopped completely in half by a gigantic chainsaw. Pretty hard to walk away from that, but since it’s only 3 minutes into the movie he clearly will find a way.
Marybeth walks into the local police station, covered in blood and carrying Crowley’s severed scalp. She is muttering “I killed him. They’re all dead” so the police lock her up, presuming she is responsible for the murders (an idea they bafflingly continue to stick to even after people have witnessed Crowley’s existence with their own eyes). A search and rescue team is deployed into the swamp to recover the bodies where it turns out Crowley still exists since the only way to kill him has something to do with bones and a voodoo curse or something magic or I don’t know. So Crowley murders the team in various violent ways, while Marybeth works with a local reporter and a cop to get Crowley’s dad’s bones or ashes or whatever and finally end the curse.
There are a few recognizable faces spread throughout the cast. We of course have Harris, whose character I don’t remember being this irritating in the previous movie. Almost every single line of dialogue out of her mouth is an insult or some aggressive statement. “Go fuck yourself.” “Fuck off you bitch.” “Suck a dick.” That’s really the extent of her character so it makes it hard to root for her as our hero.
A character who is a little easier to root for is the Sheriff, played by Zach Galligan from the Gremlins movies. He’s also not much of a character, given almost nothing to do but shout orders and reassure people, but it’s cool to see the guy from Gremlins at least. We also have Derek Mears, who played Jason in the 2009 remake, as a gruff SWAT leader who mostly just curses and shoves people against trees and threatens them. Oh and for those of you who, like me, are excited at the idea of two former Jason actors (Hodder and Mears) facing off, curb those expectations now because you’re only going to be disappointed.
Clearly Hatchet III is not at all concerned with having actual characters, instead filling up the movie with 20 or more completely disposable characters that exist solely to be dispatched by Crowley. I suppose that’s fine, since that’s a staple of the slasher movie genre, but it does make it kind of a bummer when there is nobody to root for and you have a main character that is quite easy to dislike. They do have a few surprise deaths, dispatching characters earlier than expected or sometimes disposing of the ones you assume will make it to the very end. The problem is they go back to this well a little too often, so at a certain point you just come to expect certain people to die purely because you know the movie thinks that you think they’ll never go through with it. Did that make sense? No time for revisions!
So the characters and the plot are paper thin (though there is a surprisingly large amount of exposition included) but if you’re in this for the gore, and I imagine most people are, then you won’t be disappointed. Well, ok actually you still might be but we’ll get to that in a moment. Heads are torn off, skulls are torn out of bodies, and limbs are removed pretty consistently. The best part is that all of it seems to be done practically, with no sign of CGI effects to enhance things, at least from what I could tell. It makes a few effects look a little faker (primarily some of the limb rips), but I still far prefer this to CGI and it actually makes the movie considerably more fun.
The problem is that it becomes simply monotonous. Yes there is plenty of carnage as at least 2 dozen people are dispatched during the film’s very short running time. However it doesn’t take very long to become numb to the whole thing. There isn’t much emphasis on jump scares or true suspense, with only a couple of examples of each standing out. For the most part, there’s a group of people, then Crowley appears and kills them all. Repeat in next scene. The gore effects are pretty impressive, but they would hold more impact if there was more going on around them.
The humour doesn’t fare a whole lot better. The Hatchet series, at least from what I can remember, has never taken itself too seriously and the third entry is no exception, though it may be the most juvenile yet. Here, characters are essentially breaking the fourth wall, with one person even calling the Victor Crowley backstory “clichéd and contrived”. There’s also a way too silly throwback involving a character from the first movie. The rest is just people using grade school insults towards one another. I smiled at least once, but for the most part the humour is pretty painful.
Going into this review, I wasn’t aware of how little I thought about Hatchet III but well, here we are. The gore effects are impressive but there’s almost nothing else going on here. The characters are plentiful but exist only to be killed immediately, and anything not involving Crowley murdering people is boring but even the Crowley starts to get boring pretty quickly. Not awful, but certainly not very good and I’m guessing the end of this franchise. And with that, my streak of silly but fun movies has ended. Fucking Hatchet III….