Hatchet II (review)

Bad Blood

red for no

Looks like you may have missed your chance to see Hatchet II on a big screen, because — as writer/director Adam Green complained to HorrorBid.com yesterday — the film has been pulled from theaters for reasons unknown… though its $774 per-screen average on 68 screens over last weekend may have had something to do with it. You missed, of course, absolutely nothing. Though much was made of the film’s lack of a rating and the fact that multiplexes had not seen an unrated horror movie in decades, the fact is that Green’s other complaint — that the MPAA, which would have rated the film NC-17, was much harder on his film, as an indie, than it is on studio flicks — does seem to have some substance.
Because sure, there’s lots of gore here, but it didn’t seem more extreme to me than what we see in plenty of similar big-budget flicks. In fact, it even features an illustration of that old maxim about how the MPAA doesn’t mind if you chop off a woman’s breast onscreen, just don’t caress it. So it should have loved Hatchet II for its “awesome,” “hilarious” bit in which a woman who has just been having sex gets a chainsaw in the vagina and then in the bosom. What’s not to love, MPAA? Probably the twisted old farts who rate movies figured she had previously been enjoying the sex too much, and no children should ever be allowed to see that.

Not that any of this matters, really, because Hatchet II is such a spurious waste of time that no one should have to bother with it at all.

Hatchet may have ended in such a way that it appeared heroine Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) could not escape death at the hands of Louisana swamp mutant Victory Crowley (Kane Hodder: Jason X), but Hatchet II picks up right there, with Marybeth surviving and making it back to civilization. (Marybeth’s lucky getaway is surprising only if you weren’t expecting a sequel… but if Green truly believes he is paying homage to the 80s slasher flick, which does appear to be his motivation, a sequel was inevitable.) Now, Marybeth is embarking on a preposterous attempt at revenge against Crowley for the deaths of her father and brother in the first film, and she’s enlisting the help of New Orleans voodoo charlatan Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd: Final Destination), who naturally know more about Crowley than he’s letting on.

Thence ensues one of the most egregious examples of amateurish cinematic padding-out I’ve seen since I used to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a regular basis. Zombie holds what can only be called a cattle-call audition for Crowley-fodder for Marybeth’s revenge tour of the swamp, much of which is taken up with some non-sequitur business about the light refreshments Zombie is offering for the event. That’s no exaggeration: much time is expended in the passing around of cookies, in the asking for more cookies, in the wondering if there’s any milk to go with the cookies. It’s not funny: it’s the kind of sitting-around-and-talking that unimaginative low-budget filmmakers use to run out their movies to feature length. Green engages in more of the same by repeating Crowley’s backstory — apparently even reusing footage from the first film — and then indulging in a bizarre expansion of it, bringing in some would-be spooky supernatural hooey that is simply laughable, and not in a good way: “the swamp mourned” when he was born, we’re solemnly informed. We never really learn what that means, but I suppose someone thought it sounded creepy.

It’s all like a poor imitation of itself, down to the desperately self-conscious references to Friday the 13th and Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, another recent low-budget pastiche of 80s horror that at least attempted to bring something fresh to the slasher genre. (Poor Hatchet II is even behind the curve with the gore: Machete not only beat it to the Inaugural Intestine Pull of 2010, but that film was actually funny about it, too.) Hatchet II has nothing original to say and says it in no original way: it’s empty and meaningless, even grading on the amateurish-low-budget-horror curve. Perhaps its greatest distinction is that it feels even cheaper and more shoddy than the film that spawned it. That probably wasn’t Green’s goal, though.

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