10.02.2010

Hatchet II (2010): Citizen Kane Hodder


Has anyone else made that joke before? I’m not sure, but I like it. Hatchet II is the Citizen Kane Hodder of slasher sequels. What the heck does that mean? It means the movie is gratuitous, hilarious, ridiculous, and insidious. It’s not every day you get to use all those adjectives in a positive way. But then again, it’s not every day you get to see an unrated horror film in cinemas either.

Hatchet II picks up right where the original left off á la Halloween II. The very first frame of the film? A tight close-up on Victor Crowley’s mangled, gurgling face of course! Next we see Danielle Harris take on the role of Marybeth, as she frees herself from Crowley’s grasp and emerges from the swamp. After rounding up a group of hunters with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), Marybeth returns to the swamps to defeat Victor Crowley and avenge her family. While the formula is similar to the original, there are many differences that I appreciated.   
Jamie's uncle is the boogeyman! 

The origin story is more detailed this time, as more supernatural elements are weaved into Crowley’s identity. While this may be a strange route to go with a slasher film, I think it capitalizes on the mythos often found in bayou culture. Plus, we get to see more of Kane Hodder without makeup (playing Crowley’s father again). I was rather impressed with Hodder’s performance and hope this results in more face time in other films. The only downside to the more extensive backstory is the overlap for fans of the original film. The tricky thing about sequels is finding the right balance between recapping information from the first film for new audiences and not boring the crap out of those who have already seen the original. Unfortunately, a little too much time was spent on exposition, causing the first act to feel pretty long.

Speaking of pacing...Much of the pacing problems from the original were improved upon. In the first film, it took too long for the main action to get rolling. Hatchet II gets the cast into danger much quicker (or at least it feels that way) and it was much appreciated. The characters, while not as diverse, are more fun to follow and the character jokes work better. Yes, we all got a little tired of the cat fighting between the airheads in the original. The sequel brings us a colorful collection of rednecks with names like Cleatus and Layton.
The Projects or New Orleans...take your pick.

This film had a lot to live up to in terms of gore. Victor Crowley’s methods of dispatchment are so over-the-top, they are played as comedy. Revolting but funny. Personally, I like the death scenes in the original better, but that doesn’t mean the sequel doesn’t deliver. Intestinal gore, boat propeller to the face, the return of the belt sander, and so much more make Hatchet II the crazy blood bath that it is. In grand sequel tradition, the body count is much grander, including a fantastic montage of deaths at the swamp. Was that a Joe Lynch cameo I saw? Heehee.

Cameos and nods. There are lots of them. Not just in the form of actors either. Adam Green’s directing credit hits the screen next to a shot of the director himself puking the nastiest looking vomit ever. Green inserts lots of little references to his films and others. In Reverend Zombie’ s shop, there’s a little advertisement for the “Jack Chop” with Paul Solet’s smiling face. He’s also watching something on the news about a group of skiers caught in a chairlift. My personal favorite reference is from one of the hunters talking about how he knows of a legend like Victor Crowley in a place called Glen Echo and a man who goes by the name of Leslie Vernon. As a huge fan of Behind the Mask, I was gleeful upon hearing that well-crafted plug.

Crowley mostly comes out at night...mostly.

Through and through, Hatchet II is all about having fun with the horror genre. It’s never making fun of horror; it celebrates the outlandish nature of the genre. Perhaps there are some moments in the beginning when Danielle Harris’ performance is a little too somber and Green is taking the characters a little too seriously, but none of that lasts long before we are treated to mutant-redneck-ghost mutilation.

In the end, Hatchet II is an improved film over Hatchet. The actors, jokes, and structure are better, even if I do prefer some of the deaths from the original. Shot for 2 ½ million dollars without studio support, Hatchet II does a lot with very little. With about zero advertising, it will be difficult for Hatchet II to make money this weekend, which is unfortunate because it deserves a chance to be seen.
  

8 comments:

  1. love the new look... and the words on H2, i love danielle harris.... and mr. hodder!

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  2. Regrettably, I'll have to wait for DVD on HATCHET II, since I don't have any AMC theaters near enough to me to check this out - while I ranged from luke-warm to mildly supportive of the original (liked it ok but thought it was somewhat OVER-hyped), I am still very welcoming to see what kind of result comes from the second one.

    Nice write-up tho, and I'm stoked to see Tony Todd's amusing voodoo guy get some more screen time! I thought he was woefully under-used the first time out.

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  3. Yeah, no AMC theaters near me either, but I can't wait to see Hatchet II. I didn't really like the first film too much the first time I watched it, but I didn't hate it either. I recently re-watched it, and despite suffering from many issues, most of which you brought up, I enjoyed it much more and like the film now.

    I have heard that the sequel is better, and I hope it does okay in its theatrical run, but it only released in 106 theaters, so it can only do so much I suppose.

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  4. Have to wait for the dvd as well, but it sounds like Im in for a fun ride! I liked the gory deaths from the original, hoping to get more of those on this sequel! Also, Kudos to Adam Green for getting a limited theatrical release!

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  5. First thing's first - your new site look is awesome!

    Hatchet 2 was also awesome and as much as I liked the original, I thought the sequel was better like you did. I had to go out of my way to see it in Cherry Hill, NJ (with only a handful of people in the theater - boo!) from Philly but it was well worth the trip. Glad I made the extra effort this past weekend since I read it just got yanked from theaters...wtf is up with that?! Thanks AMC! I feel bad for those who were unable to see it last weekend because now they have to wait for DVD/B-R to see the greatness.

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  6. Awesome new look to the blog Becky!

    For the life of me, I don't get why people liked the first Hatchet. Sorry, I think it was a boring and derivative dud. I love me some slashers but I just thought it was boring.

    But like the sucker I am, I'll definitely check it out at some point. You gotta think this will be released on VOD soon before it hits DVD, no?

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  7. Im glad to hear that Adam made some much needed improvements over the original Becks, as long as it is fun and bloody, I'm sure I will enjoy it, now the rest of us just need to get it on DVD!

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