Hatchet II – 2 out of 3
Not too long ago, I watched the slasher/dark comedy recommended to me by my buddy called Hatchet. I really enjoyed it and found it a great exploration of slasher films that both honored and teased the subgenre. After watching it, I discovered there were some sequels so, wasting no time, I sought them out. The first one, predictably titled Hatchet II, has some winning factors for it but, overall, I just couldn’t get into it the way I did the first one.
|Kane Hodder, looking longingly into the distance...thinking about a lost love.|
Or he's getting ready to play another kickass slasher character.
Immediately after the events of the first film, Marybeth (Danielle Harris, replacing the original Tamara Feldman) is left with the knowledge that her family is dead, killed by the murderous Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Barely able to escape with her life, she returns to town and seeks out Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd). The good reverend decides that it’s time to take Crowley out once and for all. Alongside his employee Justin (Parry Shen), who lost his brother in Marybeth’s tour party, and a group of swamp boys ready to make a quick buck, Zombie takes his crew out to Crowley’s swamp, armed to the teeth with weapons and armed with the knowledge that Marybeth’s lineage has something to do with the creation of this murderous maniac.
|Sadly, the film never addresses the plothole of how Crowley was able to see the|
man on the right in this photo.
|With facial hair that great, he should automatically get |
clearance to survive the story.
I wouldn’t say that Hatchet II is bad, I would just say that it is barely serviceable. A lot of the things that made the first one fun are here: The great practical gore effects, the over-the-top kills and the stereotypical premise that takes playful jabs at the slasher genre. However, the film is hampered greatly by a few things and it ended up making the experience feel very mundane…and that says a lot when you consider the wild gore and kills this series holds.
|This part gets weird. Yep, even weirder than two people somehow being able to|
find the mood to engage in sexual intercourse while they are hunting a murderous
psycho...in a swamp.
This first sequel takes a deeper dive into the history of its antagonist; Victor Crowley. This isn’t a bad idea in theory but the way they expanded upon the monster’s lineage and backstory felt kinda unnecessary. Crowley’s background was fairly straight-forward in the first film and it worked for what writer/director Adam Green was making but suddenly bringing up new elements and trying to add some new levels to what made the monster what he was felt a tad silly. And not in a satirical type of way but in a way that made this sequel feel like it is desperate to expand on a mythology that really didn’t need further expansion. In the end, this addition wasn’t a total terrible thing but it didn’t change the fact that it really didn’t feel like it needed to be there. It sorta made it feel like it was going through the motions that too many horror sequels take and go through these motions in a genuine way, not a nod and wink way.
|Parry Shen returns to play the brother of the character he played in the first film.|
On some productions that might be lazy but in this one, I found it damn fun.
Another problem I found with the film is that Marybeth feels like a completely different character. Granted, a new actress is playing her but she doesn’t feel like the same character that was in the first film. In the previous feature, she was determined to find her family and was a badass too but this Marybeth feels weak and like your stereotypical “final girl.” Watching her cry and beg for her life felt the complete opposite of what I saw before and even if this change is a result of the trauma she went through, it never felt like a development. It just felt like the character was completely rebooted.
|Good thing no one survived from the first film. Otherwise there would be questions|
as to why she clearly shrunk in height.
|Imagine Tony Todd reading you a bedtime story...|
It's scary as hell, right?
Finally, despite the great over-the-top gore the film delivers, it feels like the story takes way too long to get up and get us there. Reverend Zombie gathering his swamp troops and attempting to give some backstory and development to all these characters felt like it took a large chunk of time and really slowed the film down. It never got truly boring but it didn’t feel like the plot and story were moving along very well either. I quickly found myself getting impatient to see Crowley dismember, lacerate and obliterate. The new characters ended up being too bland and uninteresting to pass the time and the feature started to feel kinda boring. All this picks up when the mayhem starts and the blood begins to rain about like an out of control hose but it doesn’t erase the feeling that a lot of time was wasted.
|"It's the enhancement of my manhood chainsaw!!!"|
Hatchet II has some moments that are reminiscent of the fun slasher goofiness of the previous film but it is hampered greatly by the drawbacks I covered. There was also an issue I perceived with the tone of the film. The last film rode that line of teasing but honoring the horror subgenre but this one felt more straight slasher and like it was taking itself too seriously. When the movie gets good, it’s really entertaining and bloody good fun but too often the wait to get there is hard to endure and the changes made to the main character makes this feel less like a continuation and more like just a new tale. It’s a serviceable film but one that, sadly, falls under the category of sequels that can’t match or live up to its first film.