Tuesday, October 20, 2009

October Horror Fest #19: HATCHET

The tagline says it all. This is an old-school American horror movie, and it comes with all the good and bad things associated with the genre. Writer/Director Adam Green definitely knows his subject well, and it's obvious that this isn't a slick Hollywood money-grab. The story succeeds in establishing a new icon in the Freddy/Jason/Michael vein, albeit with a bit less staying power. The trailer, which was made as a pitch to solicit funds to make the feature length film, does an excellent job of setting the mood, tone and overall feel of what Hatchet is all about.

Hatchet is everything a slasher should be. Some dumb girls get topless, a killer stalks the woods and picks off victims one by one, and the blood flows with no compromise. Movies like this get made every year, but this one has something that sets it above the rest: a heart. Green understands what makes a good scary movie, and that's immediately apparent in every aspect of the film. The characters are firmly established, even the expendable ones. Everyone has a story, and that's the essential component.

There are some horror icon cameos from Tony Todd(Candyman) and Robert Englund(Nightmare On Elm Street), plus Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in Friday The 13th 7-11) pulling double duty as both Victor Crowley and Crowley's father in flashbacks. The rest of the cast is relatively anonymous, but they all play their parts well and convincingly.

The one drawback here is the idea that, as competent as Hatchet is, it could have been better. There's a bit too much campy humor, and while the kill scenes CGI-free and inventive, they feel a little too set up. It's nearly impossible to make a slasher movie unpredictable, but there are ways to make it a little less so. Still, this is a highly entertaining movie with high replay value. Any horror fan worth his or her salt needs this in their library.

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