The tagline for this horror film by Adam Green is, “Old School American Horror”. So there are tits all over the place, tons of gory scenes, and cameos by Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees and the Candyman.
I guess this is like what Pepsi is doing now with their Pepsi Throwback sodas, using real sugar instead of that “unhealthy” corn syrup. Instead of CGI effects, Adam Green wanted to go back to the practical days of horror, using makeup and prosthesis to tear off people’s limbs. Overall it’s a pretty decent look. Most of the film is shot at night, in the woods, and that deters from some of the fun – but there’s a reason the old school horror works better than the new school horror. As consumers, we want real stuff. Not the artificial crap.
But even if you say your movie is “old school”, that’s not entirely possible. You aren’t really old school unless you’re completely sincere with your audience. If you’re winking at them, you can’t be that old school. It’s the problem horror films have today – specifically slashers. The audience is several steps ahead already, so winking at them constantly alleviates some of the crushing burden you have as a filmmaker to deliver the goods.
“Hatchet” is not the most creative, or original slasher film. But it tries to have fun, almost to a point where it’s vigourous about it. Saying this was boring could be the worst criticism against the film. The dialogue is what keeps it going. The cast they put together – the band of “survivors” that get knocked off – is mildly entertaining to watch. None of it is scary, or suspenseful. That is the major issue with the film, since it’s hard to call something a horror film when it’s just trying to make you laugh. Every time Victor Crowley shows up, it’s like watching an oversized kid terrorize a bunch of grown ups. I appreciated the backstory to his character, where we get the flashback to his crappy childhood, and eventually, the cause of his “death”. But things like Victor never really die. They live on as legends, like Jason, Freddy, and the Candyman.
It’s what’s so interesting about slasher movies. They start with a legend. A campfire tale. Something is buried. Or sitting at the bottom of a lake. And then it comes to life, so the legend can live on.
“Hatchet” doesn’t re-invigorate the genre. But it is a successful franchise in its own right. It spawned a sequel and a third one is coming. Viewed together as a trilogy it is one big tip of the hat to the slashers we grew up on. But it feels more like a fan of those movies made his movie to commemorate those movies. Will Adam Green make 7 more sequels, just to pay homage to the fact those movies spawned that many too? It’s the only reason I could see him making more sequels.