First thing’s first. We adore the first Hatchet. It contains all the appropriate elements for a modern day ‘slasher.’ Boobs, blood, humor and a killer with a name (Victor Crowley) played by Kane Hodder. It’s awesome — and makes for a fun addition to the holiday horror calendar (you know, for Mardi Gras).
When the sequel came out, needless to say, we were stoked. We bought it and watched it right away. Yeah, it wasn’t as good as the original, but it was fun enough. And here’s where things get interesting… Just before Hatchet III was released, we re-watched Hatchet II and guess what? We were completely bored. In reality, it’s just not very good. While the first was genuinely funny (many thanks to Joel David Moore’s dry humor), the second relies way too much on stupid jokes (the same way Piranha 3DD did). And I may be committing a horror community sin here, but Danielle Harris was pretty awful as Marybeth. I know it happens (Kristen), but I hate it when characters get replaced in sequels. In truth, I think Harris’s horrid accent destroyed any possibility of creating a fun character. And, seriously, what’s with her eyebrow?! So, yeah.. the first was great; the second kind of sucked… and onto the third…
Plot (via IMDb):
A search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and Marybeth learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.
Because we were less than stoked on Harris’s Marybeth, the idea of Hatchet III picking up from where II left off wasn’t all that appetizing. To make matters even less appealing, we had only recently discovered that the third was directed by someone else, first-time director BJ McDonnell. Yeah, Adam Green was still very much involved, but… UGH. Well, here we go.
I honestly think Harris may have looked at her performance in II and cringed because she was very much toned down in III. And for me, this was a good thing. Maybe it was just hers or McDonnell’s decision to tone her down because she’s supposed to be all bad-ass now. The ‘been there, done that girl’ who knows what Victor Crowley’s all about. Either way, it worked better and she was tolerable. Another plus: the number of awful jokes-just-to-make-jokes was far less. Add in a few genre actors — Derek “Predators” Mears, Zach “Billy Peltzer” Galligan, Caroline “Stretch” Williams and Sean “Roach” Whalen — to the mix and we may have something to work with.
BJ McDonnell did an interesting thing. He made a decent slasher sequel that felt like an homage. In other words, it was a Hatchet movie that was very clearly not directed by Green, yet still poked fun at the franchise. Adam Green’s cameo (playing the same drunk Mardi Gras dude as in the other films) is pretty fun and meta. But the best part — which made Bloody Popcorn cheer — was [SPOILER] Joel David Moore’s brief return as the original’s Ben. In the end, the movie felt different from the first two. Another big difference of note? We couldn’t help but notice a change in Victor himself. Do you see it, too??
Perfect? Of course not. Great? Probably not. Fun? Sure. Brimming with buckets of blood and horror cameos, Hatchet III is not as shiny as the first and not as stupid as the second, but it’s decent and fans of the franchise will assuredly enjoy it.