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Chop 'til You Drop

  • Oct 5, 2007
  • by
I have to believe that "Hatchet" is a parody. No one in their right mind could have believed that a film so ridiculous could ever be taken seriously; everything about it is consistently hokey, from the acting to the plot to the dialogue to the sense of humor to the abundant horror movie clich├ęs. It had to be intentional for this movie to be so bad. Because I believe this to be true, I'll take a risk--a really big risk--and give it four stars. I say this because it's either one of the worst slasher films ever made, or it's a clever satire that knew how to point at itself and laugh. I'd like to think that it falls under the latter category. Given the content, I find it impossible to believe that the filmmakers actually wanted to make a reputable movie. Consider cameo appearances by Tony "Candyman" Todd and Robert "Freddy Kruger" Englund, and keep in mind that the killer is played by Kane "Jason Voorhees" Hodder. Has my point been made clear?

Make no mistake--a definite case can be made for how genuinely bad "Hatchet" is. In no way is it believable, intelligent, or even remotely original. The thing is, I think that was the idea all along: it exists on the same mindless level that made early teen slasher films like "Friday the 13th" so popular. It's all about idiotic people wandering into idiotic situations and dying in idiotic ways. We get gory makeup effects that are anything but special. We get the usual gathering of mismatched, annoying characters. We get the sex-crazed side characters. We get naked breasts. And yes, we get the hideously deformed monster wielding various weapons, including a hatchet. No thought is required for this film, and in that sense, it works.

In what's clearly paying homage to the horror films of the late 1970s and early 1980s, "Hatchet" tells the story of a tour gone wrong in the remote swamps of New Orleans. Hoping to escape the furor of Mardi Gras and reminders of his ex-girlfriend, college student Ben (Joel David Moore) decides to go on a Haunted Swamp tour. Joining him is his friend, Marcus (Deon Richmond), a.k.a., the sex-crazed side character. Along the way, they meet a perverted cameraman (Joel Murray), a ridiculously wholesome older couple (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), and a pair of quarreling bimbos (Joleigh Fioreavanti and Mercedes McNab) who regularly expose their chests for the cameraman. One of them is blonde; I make note of that because, as the stereotype suggests, she's an absolute moron.

Leading the tour is a phony voodoo shop owner (Parry Shen), a man who, as Marcus aptly remarks, "is like Uncle Remus meets Bruce Lee." He clearly has no idea what he's doing; not only does he board everyone on a ramshackle motorboat with a rusty engine, he also has to rely on index cards for vital bits of information. What kind of information, you ask? How about the legend of Victor Crowley? Crowley, who was born deformed, lived with his father in the middle of the swamp, avoiding the world as much as he could. On a Halloween night many years ago, a group of teenagers tried to scare Crowley outside by throwing firecrackers at his house. They only succeeded in burning it. Mr. Crowley tried but failed to save his son, and he later died of heartbreak. It was soon established that the swamp was haunted, and it's remained so ever since; they say that, if you listen carefully, you can still hear the ghost of Crowley calling for his father....

And that's pretty much when the bodies start piling up. Has the ghost of Victor Crowley come back for revenge? Did he even die in the fire? Do these questions matter? Anyone familiar with the conventions of slasher films will know exactly what to expect from "Hatchet," which can be viewed in one of two ways: this movie is either a rehash of a rehash of a rehash, or it's trying to poke fun at the genre it stems from. I prefer the second viewpoint because I just know this film is supposed to be an inside joke. This is especially true of Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), a character of mixed horror movie personality types--she's the Bold Heroine, the Girl with a Secret, and the Distant But Reachable Love Interest all rolled into one. She joined the tour only to find her father and brother, who went missing when alligator hunting in the swamp. When Crowley begins killing, her knowledge of the legend makes her the leader of the remaining group. And as you might have guessed, Ben finds her attractive.

If this were any other movie, namely a serious movie, it would no doubt be one of the worst of recent memory. As a parody, it at least informs the audience of what it wants to accomplish, and it does so fairly early on. It would be easy--too easy--to condemn "Hatchet" for being predictable, derivative, disgusting, and of poor quality. But a film this unabashedly tasteless should be given some credit. This movie is not frightening by any means, and the filmmakers must have known that all along. It's bad because I think it chooses to be, and that allows us to have a good time watching it. If a film of depth and complexity is what you're looking for ... but no, you're not. If you were, I seriously doubt you would have bothered to read this review.

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More Hatchet reviews
review by . January 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
***1/2 out of ****    "Hatchet" belongs to a long list of movies where a giant, hulking humanoid monster pops out of nowhere and starts killing people. In this case, that monster is a disfigured mutant named Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder); and those people are an unlikely bunch that take a New Orleans swamp tour by boat, get stranded when it hits rocks and sinks, make way to land, and sooner or later, stare Victor Crowley in the face. You need not know much about this lot; other …
review by . August 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Birth Of A New Horror Icon in a Mediocre Film?
No other film has received such mixed reviews more than “HATCHET” (2007) among my friends. Most of them, hated this film, while lately, it has began to achieve a minor cult following. “Hatchet” is the type of film that definitely depends on what you are looking for in a movie experience. I think a film requires somewhat of an acquired taste, but one thing, I have to say it is a homage to the 80’s “slasher” flicks and NOT to be taken seriously.   …
review by . October 01, 2008
What's good about this? The gore is fantastic. The problem with this movie is that it is such a throwback to the 80's, it belongs there. If this film was released 20 years ago, I have no doubt that it would now be referred to as a classic. In 2007, though, this film feels too much like 'we've seen it all before.' The humor soon dries up, the best lines having been used within the first 20 minutes, and we are left with some groan worthy dialogue, which far out ways the few funny lines that are in …
review by . February 08, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
This film takes place in New Orleans around mardi gras time... an assortment of folks end up on a swamp tour of death, entering the domain of "hatchet," a deformed killer who will ruthlessly slash and dismember his victims. The cast do a decent job within what they had to work with in this gory, unoriginal tale. The film is relatively short and the plot is focused in the 2nd half on who can escape the swamp before being grotesquely slain by the killer. There isn't really that much in the way of …
review by . January 16, 2008
"Old fashioned" may be a relative term regarding horror movies, of whom I count myself a fan. But it gets harder and harder to find something I can really watch; unlike a lotta newbies to the genre, I really don't want to find the most bloody and realistic depiction of chainsaw massacres.    I like horror movies that surprise, that are clever, that are pure escapism. The worst and most horrific blood and gore isn't my idea of a horror movie. That's just stupid, or maybe I should …
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


  • Hatchet
  • Opened September 7, 2007 | Runtime:1 hr. 22 min.
  • R
    strong bloody violence, sexual content, nudity and language
  • A group of tourists on a haunted swamp tour find one of the horrific local legends to be true. They try to escape alive--and with all of their pieces.
  • Cast: Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Joleigh Fioreavanti
  • Director: Adam Green
  • Genres: Slasher FilmHorror
  • Poster art for "Hatchet."
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