Friday, 14 December 2007

Hatchet (2006)

This film is a love letter to 80's horror, with all of the good/bad traits that implies. There's nothing original in it, but it's very good at what it does.

The film takes place in (pre-Katrina) New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and our hero Ben (Joel Moore) has broken up with his girlfriend and is in a depressive funk that no amount of boob flashing and wanton debauchery can remedy. To try and take his mind off things, he convinces his friend Marcus (Deon Richmond) to join him on a spooky swamp tour. On the tour he is joined by a couple of middle-aged tourists, two bickering, bubblehead actors (accompanied by a sleazy filmmaker) and a beautiful, mysterious woman who knows more than she's letting on. As luck would have it, the inexperienced tour guide manages to sink their vessel right next to the stomping ground of local legend Victor Crowley, a deformed freak who was taunted by local children before being (supposedly) tragically killed in a Halloween prank gone wrong. If any of this sounds familiar, I'm not surprised.

It takes a while for the villain to appear, but once he does it's a blast. Victor Crowley is played with animal ferocity by hulking behemoth Kane Hodder, who also played Jason in most of the Friday the 13th films. Like Jason, Crowley is superhumanly fast and strong and has a habit of appearing just out of frame where he should be easily spotted by the victims. The gore effects are well done and absurdly exaggerated (which always gets my tick of approval) and it's all accomplished with nary a pixel of CG in sight. Just good, old-fashioned stage blood and rubbery viscera, as it should be. In true 80s horror fashion, the victims frequently act like idiots, knocking Victor down and then running away rather than chopping his damn head off.

The film also features guest spots from 80's horror icons such as Tony Todd and Robert Englund.

As a throwback to 80's horror it succeeds admirably. Now let's hope it doesn't outstay it's welcome with a string of lousy sequels.

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