Movie review: 'Hatchet'
As a slasher film, "Hatchet" rates as a cut above.
That would be a cut above the torso, a cut below the torso and a cut right through the torso.
Then there are the grisly indignities bestowed upon other body parts, such as heads, arms and legs. They all get detached with extreme prejudice as blood spurts like Old Faithful on overdrive.
An homage to the slasher films of yore such as "Friday the 13th," "Hatchet" revels into its gory abandon while scenes of gratuitous nudity and randy conversation tossed in for good measure. All of this nastiness comes from the creative yet cleary disturbed mind of writer-director Adam Green, who hails from Holliston.
Unlike trendy torture horror films, "Hatchet" wants its over-the-top violence to elicit laughter along with grossed-out groans. What else can you say about a film where one of the victims gets her head torn into two pieces and another gets her face sandblasted? No computer-generated imagery here. The mayhem is all executed the old-fashioned way - through the magic of photography - kudos to cinematographer Will Barratt - and lots of latex - plaudits to horror special makeup effects veteran John Carl Buechler and Magical Media Industries.
The film marks a refreshing change from PG-13 horror films that try to induce fear with formulaic shock techniques and horror parodies such as the "Scream" films that rely more on jokes than carnage.
Green instead goes back to the slasher basics. Take a bunch of people - most of whom you just can't wait to see mangled - trap them in an eerie environment - a Louisiana swamp, in this case - and unleash upon them a homicidal maniac who apparently can't be killed. In "Hatchet," that maniac would be Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder, who played Jason in the "Friday the 13th" films). The film's title refers to the tool that was accidentally smashed into Victor's face by his father. I just hate when that happens.
What begins as a bogus swamp tour turns into a trip through hell for all involved. The unfortunate souls include Ben (Joel David Moore), who could pass as the son of Maynard G. Krebs, and his best friend Marcus (Deon Richmond), who gets dragged along for the ride. Other passengers are Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), who is searching for her father and brother, a pornographer named Shapiro (Joel Murray), his two bimbo stars Misty (Mercedes McNab) and Jenna (Joleigh Fioreavanti) who lift up their shirts at the drop of a hat, a married couple, the Permatteos (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), who look like they wandered in off the set of "Fargo," and a sleazy tour operator (Parry Shen).
Once this motley crew gets stranded in the swamp, Victor, a horribly disfigured person with a serious attitude problem, starts picking off the visitors one by one. They don't go gently into the good night.
That "Hatchet" was made on a microbudget is discernible by its lack of scenery changes. The characters basically keep running back to the same spot. Suspense does waver as a result. While the film also benefits from plenty of comic moments, eventually the script devolves into "Run this way!" hysterics.
On the acting front, Richmond steals scene after scene. It's also fun to watch the bimbos cat fight.
For horror fans, "Hatchet" will not only be a treat because of the gore; it also contains cameos from such horror legends as Robert Englund of "Nightmare on Elm Street" infamy and Tony "Candyman" Todd.
Locals will particularly enjoy some of the visual tributes. For example, Ben wears a Newbury Comics T-shirt throughout the film and Mr. Permatteo sports a Holliston Panthers sweatshirt. Green also has a cameo.
Sadly, ratings board cretins censored the film, cutting the length of the manic mutilations. What is the world coming to when you can't dwell on a face getting sandblasted?
"Hatchet" opens Friday, Sept. 7 at the AMC Boston Commons 19, National Amusements Showcase Revere 20 and CFC Entertainment Cinemas Fresh Pond 10 in Cambridge.
Starring Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman and Deon Richmond
Rated R (strong bloody horror violence, sexual content and profanity) 92 minutes
Written and directed by Adam Green