By: Heather Seebach
Victor Crowley is back for round three in Hatchet III, the first entry in the series to not be directed by Adam Green. The ArieScope Pictures founder is still involved as writer and producer, so you van expect more of the same gory disembowelments, flying limbs, and carbonated blood from the bayou butcher. Unfortunately, it's a bit too much of the same, only with weaker FX and characters than the original Hatchet. Still, its sense of humor and abundance of horror cameos give it an edge over the last sequel.
This third installment picks up right where Hatchet II left off, with Marybeth (Danielle Harris) fighting for her life against Victor Crowley. Convinced she has finished him off, she turns herself in and gets arrested for the numerous grisly murders on Honey Island Swamp. When the first responders start getting picked off too, the local police and Louisiana SWAT head into the swamps to face the deformed, hulking ghost. Meanwhile, Marybeth reluctantly joins forces with a disgraced journalist determined to prove Victor Crowley exists.
You could almost call it the Aliens of the Hatchet franchise, with the lone survivor being dragged back to the scene of the massacre while cocky soldier-types hunt the monster. Only this film is not nearly so fun. The strongest aspects of Adam Green's original were its special effects make-up and wildly original kills. Here they are replaced by watered-down blood, boring kills, and cheap FX. Some make no sense at all - the defibrillator? Really?
Hatchet III makes a lot of references to its predecessors and pokes fun at itself, which is fun. The cast is comprised largely of genre vets like Harris, Caroline Williams, and Zach Galligan. Harris is grossly underused but Williams gets to shine, which is nice. We also get to see two Jason Voorhees' face off with Kane Hodder (as Crowley) versus Derek Mears (as the SWAT leader). There are some other neat cameos along the way, but shhh, they're a surprise. Some of the jokes and references are too obvious for their own good, but for the most part the humor works.
In the director's seat, long-time cameraman and first-time director BJ McDonnell carries the torch competently, but an average script and below-average gore hold the sequel back. While Victor Crowley makes an awesome contemporary slasher, his novelty seems to have worn off now. Unless the storyline takes a dramatic change - new hero, new setting - this series has reached its expiration date...
Crowley in Space, anyone?
Hatchet III comes to DVD and Blu-ray from Dark Sky Films on August 13th. Features include commentary with cast and crew, including Adam Green and Kane Hodder, plus behind-the-scenes featurettes.