Friday, August 12, 2011

Hatchet (2006)

A one way tour

"Hatchet" is a horror tale that takes place in New Orleans like "Candyman 2," "Dracula 2000," "The Skeleton Key" and even "Interview with the Vampire," except the tone shifts away from the ominous shadows captured in the past and goes in and out of slapstick, almost cartoonish comedy with gruesome blood and gore shown to still make it a sadistic ride.

New Orleans, Louisiana, or NOLA, is home to the fleur de lis, festive masks, plastic beads and according to this movie Victor Crowley who haunts a particular stretch of swampland most locals stay clear of out fear of flesh eating alligators or just plain old superstitions--sometimes both. A couple of buddies are living up the party life in the French Quarter, when two break off for a haunted tour on the bayou that looks about as hokey as they come. Their tour guide is a Victorian dressed Asian guy with fake local accent, laughable theatrics and drives them around in the "Scare Bus" and "Scare Boat." We get the goofy young dude, token black hipster, quiet woman, enthusiastic older couple, two bimbos--one smart, one dumb--and a horny guy to film them topless with his camera any chance he gets.

On the way back from the unbelieving tour--due the guide reading off cue cards and providing exaggerated information--the boat gets stuck. When one of them steps off a ravenous gator leaps out to take a nibble but is stopped when the quiet woman suddenly pulls a gun. She's carrying because she is looking for her siblings who suspiciously went missing a few days before. The rest of the group soon jumps off to land when the boat starts to sink, thus starting the second half. The woman proceeds to tell them one ghost story they soon believe: that the disfigured Victory Crowley actually exists and they're all in for heaps of trouble if they don't stick together and avoid his blood-craving, vengeful hatchet.

One by one they're hunted by the "Elephant Man" on roids. The film has some extremely gory death scenes, though quickly turns into a bunch of misguided idiots running scared back and forth in the woods as Crowley literally pops out of nowhere to go "arrggghhh!" They have to figure out how the rules--that is if there are any rules--work to kill him before they all get taken alive in a heinously bloody fashion. Never hearing of Murphy's law, they never once get the hint to check if he's dead after wounding him at different times. "Hatchet" is certainly not boring and actually has some funny and crude humor with some well timed out chemistry for comedy. I felt this was its strength along with some over-the-top gory scenes that put some slashers of the '80s to shame due to MPAA guidelines and this being the day and age of the unrated to sell DVDs. Though the survival horror part towards the second half feels unrefined, as if the filmmakers made it up as they went in a rush like they ran out of money or ideas. Even if it's giving obvious homage to slashers and is going for intentional humor, that still doesn't excuse it so easily.

Rating: 5/10

Director: Adam Green (Coffee & Donuts)
Stars: Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, Tony Todd
Link: IMDB

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