Movie Review: HATCHET III

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If there is one constant you can count on in horror films, it’d certainly have to be that evil never dies. It’s a mantra that’s been proven true time and time again thanks to a never ending void of sequels (and our contributions to the box office). Sure, you could shoot them six times, bury their unholy bones, or take a machete to their head in slow motion, but it’s almost guaranteed they’re getting right back up to hunt your ass down. The same can be said for HATCHET‘s hulking slasher Victor Crowley, who returns once more to tear anyone who crosses his path into pieces under the direction of the series’ camera operator BJ McDonnell. It has it’s missteps, but BJ injects some serious style, scope, and an excellent ensemble of horror stalwarts to this latest installment. And it’s the best one yet.

Like it’s predecessors, HATCHET III picks up at the exact moment II ended, with Danielle Harris’ bloodied heroine Marybeth blowing Victor Crowley’s face off. But in true fashion, he rises again, creating another massively gory opening scene (complete with GWAR blasting over the title credits), leading to Marybeth literally taking his face to show she has finally killed the legendary ‘Bayou Butcher’. Not believing the events that took place in the previous films, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan, Gremlins) & a SWAT team head into Honey Island Swamp, discover a plethora of body parts (balls!), and a highly pissed off-Daddy seeking Crowley!

Adam Green’s HATCHET was welcomed with arms wide open with the horror community, and for good reason. It’s a loving throwback to the golden age of “slashers,” solely features practical FX, and gave Kane Hodder another chance to bring a character with a serious case of misanthropy to life. It launched Victor Crowley as a new horror icon, leading to a mythology & body count expanding sequel, and now the possible final chapter HATCHET III. In just about every way, HATCHET III is the bigger & better sequel you were hoping it be. Even with a smaller budget, it’s the most cinematic out of the trilogy, with a bevy of stylish flourishes that no doubt stem from McDonnell’s years as a camera operator. I have to applaud Green passing the torch to BJ, he’s proven he’s more than capable of yelling “action!”, and I cannot wait to see him in the directors seat again.

For you gorehounds, the ante is upped even further in terms of the kills. The bread & butter of any slasher, Robert Pendergraft’s makeup effects are plentiful & delivers the red stuff tenfold. Guts are shredded, skulls are ripped; if it’s attached to an artery, it is removed in a gnarly fashion. Crowley is much more primal here, and is actually calculating his next move. I think that’s a testament to the method of Kane Hodder, and he continues to prove he’s the best monster for the job. Now, I do have some gripes with it. There’s a lot of excess exposition, and there is a certain scene that I won’t spoil, just basically if it were deleted from the final film it wouldn’t be missed. Danielle Harris’ screentime takes a bit of a backseat (she’s still kickass & sharp as ever), but the humorously-heated banter between Zack Galligan, Cody Blue Snider, and Derek Mears is a major highlight of the film.

HATCHET III isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself (look out for a dig at HATCHET II!), but this one definitely adapts a more serious tone with laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled through out. It also delivers a showdown between Mears & Hodder, so if you’ve been dying to see a Jason vs. Jason brawl, you’ve come to the right place! I could have done without some ridiculous mythology expanding plot points, but the added flair BJ brings to the film more than makes up for it. Everything comes full circle, and if this happens to be the last time we’ll venture into the swamp, I’d say it was a satisfying conclusion.