Some horror pictures are structured much more like a traditional monster movie than they are true horror. The narrative device ends up being similar to a three-act play: the first act focuses on introducing the cast of characters and the situations; the second act explores and deepens the characters and the assorted conflicts; and the final act suitably amps up the tension and delivers the dramatic conclusion. Defeat is assured, success is celebrated, and it all fades to black.
I come to HATCHET III being completely unfamiliar with the first two films in the series, so, if you’re hoping on some kind of comparative analysis on the effectiveness of the overall arc then you’re liable to be disappointed. If you’re instead just looking for a man to give you an efficient rundown of the action as well as his thumbs up or thumbs down, then you’ve reached the right place.
The short story? I give it a thumbs up. Even an enthusiastic one. The long story? Well, hang on for after the break.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
In this “epic third installment of Adam Green’s modern slasher franchise” (that comes from the product packaging, not me), the film opens with our winning heroine Marybeth (played by the always lovely Danielle Harris) finally vanquishing the seemingly immortal Victor Crowley once and for all … or so it would seem. After she turns herself in to the local sheriff (Zach Galligan), she’s forced to team up with the man’s ex-wife (an aging but still curvaceous Caroline Williams) and a dimwitted deputy when Crowley rises from the grave yet again with intentions on cleaning up the swamp hatchet-style for good. Lives will be changed, blood will be shed, and bodies will start piling up as forces collide en route to a bruising and bloodied finish.
As I’ve said, I’m not up-to-snuff with all things HATCHET, but, if this third installment is any indication, methinks I’ve missed something that’s not only thrilling but also downright fun. Sure, it’s gory and gratuitously so in all the right places, but that’s half the fun of a slasher picture. But what writer Adam Smith has done here actually rises above the conventional horror film and instead treads ground much closer to the monster movie. As is always the case with true monster mashes, it’s the monster that’s the most interesting character; while Victor Crowley appears more myth than man, he’s still a compelling force for study … if only for 80 or so minutes.
The film is smartly assembled from start to finish, and, while one could easily argue over content and perhaps even specific scenes, director BJ McDonnell has turned in a surprisingly nimble cut. It flows gracefully from one bloody sequence to the next, and the narrative cleverly balances that line between humor and comedic overkill with deft conviction. You may not believe a man can regenerate, and that’s where you’d be wrong: Crowley isn’t a man but a myth, and myths can go on and on without end. The packaging is perfect – right up to the inclusion of stock characters who have to show up and do something stupid before they’re beheaded, disemboweled, or merely hacked into pieces. Or have their head ground of with a grinder. Or suffer a spinal removal. You name it, it’s all in there.
HATCHET III may not win hearts, but it’ll no doubt turn stomachs. Should that not be to your liking, you can always pick up the latest from Dame Judi Dench.
HATCHET III is produced by ArieScope Pictures and Dark Sky Films. DVD distribution is being handled through Dark Sky Films. As for the technical specifications, the video and audio are mostly solid; there’s a sequence that takes place while our heroine Marybeth is locked up, and the mike work isn’t as accomplished as I would’ve liked. For those needing it spelled out perfectly, yes, it would appear that HATCHET III is scripted to indeed close out the HATCHET trilogy, but we all know how that goes. Lastly, the disc is loaded with special features, including two separate commentary tracks, a handful of featurettes, and the theatrical teaser and trailer for those interested in exploring the property just a bit more.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. It’s rare to have so much bloody fun in a lean, mean 80+ minutes, but HATCHET III manages to serve up one respectable set piece after another, all the while keeping an emphasis on effectively moving the story forward. There isn’t so much as a wasted frame in here. True, the last third of the film kinda/sorta descends into some relatively predictable territory including some comic relief – whether intentional or not – didn’t need to be there. But, all in all, that’s a minor complaint for such an achievement in dismemberment.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Sky Films provided me with a DVD copy of HATCHET III by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
What did you think of this review?
Fun to Read
About the reviewer
What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops". … more