HATCHET 2 (2010)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares
I’d originally planned to review HATCHET 2 last October, when it was released in theaters. There was some controversy at the time, because it was released unrated in mainstream movie theaters.This was the first time a mainstream horror film was released unrated because of violence since George Romero’s classic DAWN OF THE DEAD in 1978. I guess the big theater chains weren’t ready for this, though, because they pulled HATCHET 2 after only three days. It was a big deal at the time. I just missed seeing it in time to review it, and had to wait for the DVD, which just came out this month.
So, with all the controversy and hype, was HATCHET 2 worth it?
Well, yes and no. First off, let’s address the previous film, Adam Green’s HATCHET (2007), which was reviewed on this site awhile back. I remember being very disappointed with it at the time. The marketing strategy at the time was all about calling it a return to “Old School American Horror,” which I mistakenly thought meant a throwback to the meaner, more violent films of the 1970s. But it was way too jokey and downright silly for most of its running time to be genuinely scary. I didn’t like a lot of the characters, and when Kane Hodder popped up onscreen as the deformed monster, Victor Crowley, it gave the movie a boost, but not a big enough one to save it.
That said, the original HATCHET is one of those movies that has grown on me over time. I still don’t think it’s a great movie, but it is a fun movie.
Watching HATCHET 2, I noticed one thing right off the bat— that things have a more serious tone this time around. There are some goofy characters in the mix, but they don’t dominate the proceedings, and strangely, the plot of HATCHET 2 actually kind of makes sense!
The movie begins exactly where the last one ends. In the first movie, a bunch of people taking a boat tour through the bayou end up trapped when the boat breaks down in Honey Island Swamp, and local legend/boogieman Victor Crowley turns out to be real and picks them off one by one, in increasingly gory ways. At the end of the original HATCHET, everyone has been killed except Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), who somehow escapes a gruesome fate.
At the beginning of HATCHET 2, Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) is found by the old Cajun gator hunter named Jack Cracker, who saves her and brings her back to his shack in the middle of the bayou. He’s helpful enough until he finds out Marybeth’s last name, Dunsted, and realizes that her daddy was Samson Dunsted, one of the casualties in the first HATCHET movie. He immediately demands that she leave his house, and even pulls a gun on her to make his point.
After she’s gone, Victor Crowley shows up keep Jack’s mouth shut – for good.
Marybeth heads back to New Orleans and seeks out Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), who we saw briefly in the first movie, when Todd’s character just had a cameo. The Reverend tells Marybeth the story of Victor Crowley, how he was born as a kind of monster due to a curse and how Marybeth’s father was one of three boys who set Crowley’s house on fire years before, leading to the boy’s death.
So how is Victor Crowley able to pop up and kill people if he’s dead? Because he’s a ghost, and not just any kind of ghost. He’s a “repeater.” Which means that he comes back every night, over and over again, until he’s able to get his revenge and the curse is finally lifted.
At least this is Reverend Zombie’s theory. But he’s so sure of himself that he gathers a bunch of local fishermen and gator hunters to help him. He tells them it’s an expedition to find his damaged tour boat and bring it back, but his real plan is to offer up the two men who were, as kids, Samson Dunstan’s accomplices in burning down the Crowley house. Zombie figures if he can appease Crowley, all this ghost business will go away, and he’ll be free to cash in on the swamp (Is there really that much money in late-night swamp tours?).
Of course, things don’t go according to plan, and over the course of the movie, people die in lots of awful ways, including:
- Strangled with their own intestines
- Getting a hatchet to the head
- Having an electric sander scrape off the back of a skull
- Being chainsawed between the legs and up, until they’re cut in half
- One guy having his mouth pressed against a table and then Victor kicks the guy’s head from behind (kind of a variation on the old “curb job”)
- Getting chopped in half and having their skin pulled off
As you can see, the reason this movie was released unrated was because of all the gore. And while HATCHET 2 is an okay horror flick overall, it’s the gore that’s the draw here, if you’re into that kind of thing. Although I saw the original HATCHET in a movie theater and I remember it being pretty gory as well, that one somehow got an R rating.
But as we know from those “Director’s Cut” DVD releases, the difference between an R Rating, and the MPAA rejecting a film for that rating, can be just a matter of two or three minutes’ worth of explicit violence. That violence, in HATCHET 2, is exaggerated and cartoony, and I can’t imagine anyone could really be offended by it. And I think director Adam Green and his studio should be applauded for bypassing the MPAA and releasing HATCHET 2 unrated, even if they didn’t fully succeed at it and the movie got pulled early.
Overall, I thought HATCHET 2 was an improvement over the first film. The tone is more serious. The acting is better. We’ve got Tony Todd in a main role here (instead of just the cameo he had in the first film) and he’s always entertaining – even in stuff like this, and the even worse ARE YOU SCARED 2 (2009). I just wish the guy could get better movies to be in! Danielle Harris as Marybeth is pretty good, too, and is sympathetic as the last of the Dunsteds.
And the Victor Crowley scenes are way over the top, just as they should be.
I reviewed the first movie before we started giving ratings. But if I gave the first HATCHET one knife, let’s say, then HATCHET 2 certainly deserves two or even two and a half.
In other words, HATCHET 2 is worth the price of a DVD rental. Check it out.
© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares