Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Hatchet II’

Fantastic Fest Review: ‘Hatchet II’

Director Adam Green brought his patented flair for gore to Fantastic Fest with Hatchet II, the sequel to the well received Hatchet (2006.) The movie will be released in theaters unrated, the second October release to buck the trend and opt for no rating (the other being I Spit on Your Grave 2010, which also showed at the festival.)

Hatchet II has the distinction of being the first film that theater chain AMC will release and support in unrated form, through their independent program.  Dark Sky films is the distributor, and this marks the largest unrated release in major theaters in 25 years.  That’s  a huge development for horror, and for that reason alone, if you are a horror fan, you should support this movie by buying a ticket.

Although I personally adore Adam Green, and fully support his career, I found the hype for Hatchet perplexing.  I watched the film twice, just to see if I missed something, but I never found the movie to be very good.  The story behind Victor Crowley (played by Kane Hodder in both films) is interesting, but the secondary characters are grating, to say the least.

Fortunately most of those tourist types have been eliminated from the sequel, and the story has been stripped down to a bare bones slasher flick.  You get exactly what you expect, no more, no less.  It’s a good October release, and should satisfy those looking for a an old-school throwback to the films they grew up with, but don’t expect any new ground to be broken here.

Hatchet II literally picks up precisely where Hatchet left off.  Scream queen Danielle Harris steps into the role of Marybeth this time around. If you recall, she was the sole survivor of Victor Crowley’s bloodbath in Hatchet, and she flees to the safety of an isolated house occupied by a swamp dweller. All is fine and good until he actually finds out who she is, then he promptly kicks her out of his house.

Marybeth seeks answers from New Orleans Voodoo shop owner/ghost tour operator Reverend Zombie, played by horror icon Tony Todd (Candyman.)  He’s sympathetic to her plight, and decides to accompany her into the swamp to retrieve the bodies of her father and brother. They assemble a ragtag group of people to track down Crowley.

Of course the group is gruesomely disposed of one by one. Green has never met an opportunity for spewing arterial blood spray that he didn’t like, and the uncut format allows him to go for broke.  The film is gross but funny; audiences squealed in delight at the multitude of original kills. It’s over the top and is tinged with black humor.

If you’re looking for substance and story, you’re looking in the wrong place. This is a good old gorefest, pure and simple, but I found it to be an improvement on the original. However, like its predecessor, the film is very badly lit, making some of the action difficult to discern.

Hatchet II is directed by Adam Green.  Starring Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, and AJ Bowen.  AMC is releasing Hatchet II nationwide on October 1st.