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Hatchet

Hatchet

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of Hatchet (39’ 16”); Meeting Victor Crowley (9’ 22”); Guts and Gore (10’ 56”); Anatomy of a… Kill! (6’ 19”); A Twisted Tale (8’ 31”); Gag Reel (3’ 41”); Trailer (Hatchet- Old School American Horror).

ADAM Green first came up with the idea for Hatchet at the age of eight, when he terrified his young friends at summer camp with the tale of Victor Crowley. He was sent home after making them cry!

Almost 20 years on and Hatchet is now a low-budget horror flick that gleefully tries to emulate old-school American horror greats such as Halloween and A Nightmare On Elm Street.

And while it’s not hugely successful in doing so, there’s plenty to suggest that Green is one to watch for the future. He clearly knows his way around the horror genre even though his debut feature is a little blunt around the edges.

The film picks up as heartbroken college kid Ben (Joel Moore) peruades his best friend Marcus (Deon Richmond) to head into the New Orleans swamp for an evening of haunted fun.

Teaming up with a tour group that includes the mysterious Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), an elderly couple and a trio of amateur porn filmmakers, they quickly find themselves stranded and being stalked by a legendary slasher with a penchant for chopping and maiming anyone in his way.

Ironically, the most positive thing about Hatchet is also its biggest weakness. By setting up a boogeyman legend to rival the likes of Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers, Green’s film automatically has you comparing it with those former classics – and it lacks the immediacy of those films.

Whereas Halloween (the original) and company set out to terrify and took no prisoners along the way, Hatchet tries to mix the horror with some knowing laughter but fails to hit upon the same winning formula that made the Scream franchise such a success.

Rather, it’s an uneven blend of gross-out gore, jump-out-of-your seat terror and in-joke humour that’s also shot in a deliberately B-movie, straight-to-video style.

Green does deserve credit for managing to secure cameos from horror legends Robert Englund and Tony Todd, and draws decent performances from Moore and Feldman. But the rest of his cast play things so over the top that their performances border on the hysterical.

What’s more, it’s difficult to care for many of them at all, so that the film becomes a countdown to each grisly slaying.

Hatchet will probably gain a cult horror following and already has a sequel in the works. Green, too, is being hyped in all the right horror circles. But as a first stab at rebooting the genre, it needed to be a lot sharper.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 85mins