Watching films at Fantastic Fest can be described in a lot of ways. For me personally, I generally walk into every single film playing there with no idea what it’s about, or even what language it’s in. This is, of course, completely untrue when it comes to Hatchet 2, which is exactly why I skipped the Fantastic Fest screening to watch Rubber instead. Thankfully there was an LA screening and interviews set up, so I flew back to town to rock and roll with that. Now you’re lucky enough to hear my thoughts on it.
In 2006 writer-director Adam Green unleashed Victor Crowley on the world in the 80’s slasher film love letter Hatchet. A straight up throwback to a better, simpler time where gigantic men in masks beat, cut, slashed, pounded, and ripped young adults into much smaller pieces in amusing ways. Four years later Green has returned to the swamps of Louisiana, picking up approximately one second after the events of the first film. Seriously, if you haven’t seen the first flick, make sure to check it out before heading into theaters this October to watch the unrated film on the big screen thanks to AMC.
Hatchet 2 makes no bones about what it is: an ensemble film of familiar faces gathered together to meet eclectic deaths at the hands of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Gone is Tamara Feldman, the Marybeth of the original, replaced by genre mainstay and still rising star Danielle Harris. While Harris may be a touch on the shorter side, she proves she can hand out an ass-kicking worthy of someone much larger and assuredly less attractive.
Not content to just assemble and kill random people, Green adds a ton of backstory to the franchise, filling in virtually all of the blanks in the last film with answers that make sense. When I first heard him say that he had this exact sequel planned from the start, I nodded and said okay but chalked that up to things directors say before sequels. Seeing the film, I’m convinced he actually had planned things to go this way from the beginning. Unlike most horror films, Green offered some insight into the real nature of what Victor Crowley is. Unlike say, Jason Voorhees, he was once a … man… boy… whatever, that eventually turned into a … zombie … spirit… killer, Victor Crowley is explained in a way that makes sense in the world and, yes, leaves the door wide open for a third installment.
Despite Green’s efforts into putting thought and backstory in the film, Hatchet 2 isn’t exactly groundbreaking or a thinking man’s film, but that’s not what anyone walking into Hatchet 2 should be expecting. As a second installment of a love letter to 80’s slasher films, the film works for me. Rare are the moments when you’re waiting for something interesting to happen and frequent are the kills that illicit a real, audible response. Whether you’re a sissy who gags and gasps or a hardened horror veteran who cheers at awesome kills, you’ll raise your voice at this film. If you’re like me, you will also probably turn to a friend later and say “Talk about an ax wound!”
All I wanted from this sequel was a few pairs of boobies (check), a couple of laughs (check), a lot of death (check), and some inventive kills (check). The film gave me all of that, a coherent sequel, and what is probably the world’s longest chainsaw.
Hatchet 2 should please fans of the original and those who like seeing a wide variety of deaths that involve things like severed testicles, power tools, and – actually, I’m not going to spoil that one. But what is, I think, the second to last kill of the film, is totally sweet. Mix all that together and throw in more horror references and guest stars and cameos than I could count in a single viewing, and you’ve got a damn fun film.