US (dir. Adam Green )
Cast: Deon Richmond, Joel Moore, Kane Hodder, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Richard Riehle, Robert Englund, Tamara Feldman
Synopsis: When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turns into a horrific nightmare.
Review: When a film brazenly describes itself as “old school American horror”, it better deliver just that. “Hatchet” is, unfortunately, a piece of crap. Word of mouth and heavy promotion helped “Hatchet” grab a lot of attention from the horror community and horror movie fans alike. The film’s posters quirkily proclaimed that it was: “Not a remake. Not a sequel. And not based on a Japanese one” so you can imagine my instant interest in the movie. What ended up being true about “Hatchet” was that it was worse than any remake I’d ever seen, less entertaining than any sequel I’d ever seen, and not nearly as terrifying as any J-Horror movie from the past decade.
This film could easily have been subtitled “Not Another Slasher Movie”. It was bland, boring, and unentertaining. The intro scene with a (sadly) brief cameo by Robert Englund was kinda splattery fun, and it was followed by a great Marilyn Manson tune (This Is the New Shit) as the credits/title sequence came up. Now let me make one thing clear, if you’re going to start off a horror movie with a song that has a chorus repeating “This is the new shit!!”, you damn well better come up with some “new shit”. Granted, we do get a fairly original situation in the beginning of the movie (tourist boat breaks down during a haunted swamp tour) but that would pretty much be it. Everything else is old shit. Misunderstood/deformed/bullied kid (goes by the name of Victor Crowley in this movie) grows up to be a killer. Wow, gee! That’s never been done before! (refer to the following: Leatherface in “Texas Chain Saw Massacre”, Jason in “Friday the 13th”, Michael Myers in “Halloween”, etc. etc. etc. yawn etc. etc. etc). In order to seek vengenance, the now grown up kid goes on killing sprees should any one trespass on his swamp (hey that sounds almost exactly like “Friday the 13th”). And to conclude, the killer ends up offing a lot of young 20-somethings and maybe a few older adults just for good measure. This is a tried and true formula that has been used since the early 80s. It is still being used in today’s horror movies. Did the makers of “Hatchet” really think they were going to impress anybody with this? Ugh.
There are several fundamental problems to this movie. I won’t go listing all of them, so I’ve made a list of a few major problems.
1) Lighting. Yes I know that this is a low budget movie. But if the producers could afford Robert Englund for a day’s work, then why the hell couldn’t they invest in more realistic lighting? This movie looks like it was shot under fluorescent lights! The killer is so well lit, you can see the hair on his back and the curve of his spine! If I can see a killer’s face in full, well-lit detail, the movie loses all tension and suspense. Ugh!
2) Killer’s costume. The costume is made of rubber! And the fact that I can tell that it is rubber is not a good sign! If you’re trying to make the new Jason Voorhees or Leatherface, at least try not to make him look like a fool wearing a rubber mask that looks like something pulled out of the back aisles of Wal-Mart during their Halloween merchandise sale. Also, with the massive (rubber-made) deformity on the character’s back I’m suprised he’s portrayed as being so easily mobile. Are you telling me that this killer with an apparently severe spinal deformity couldn’t run out of a burning house as a child but manages to run down grown men in a swamp? Ugh!
3) Bad, bad, bad characters. Are you kidding me? Who the hell wrote these people into this movie? They spend the whole movie cracking jokes, making wise-ass remarks, or bitching and complaining about being in the most well-lit haunted swamp I’ve ever seen in my whole life. I didn’t even really care to watch them suffer and die.
4) Dumb story. A haunted swamp tour, really? That’s your idea of old school American horror? Come on. Just because you set a horror movie in the deep south with a bunch of rednecks doesn’t mean it’s going to be an awesome throwback to American slasher films of the 80s.
5) The ending is ripped off from “Friday the 13th”. Look, there are enough references to “Friday the 13th” in this movie to make the average fan go “Hey that was in the Jason movie!”. When you’re trying to NOT make a remake and NOT make a sequel and instead make an original work full of your own ideas, DON’T FUCKING RIP OFF THE ENDING TO “FRIDAY THE 13TH”. Christ!
What really makes my blood boil is their stupid tagline that I once found kind of cute and quirky (“Not a remake. Not a sequel. And not based on a Japanese one”). Let me tell you something, you fuckface Adam Green… the 2003 “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake is superior to “Hatchet”. The sequel to” Scream 2″ was better than “Hatchet”. And the movie “Auditon” (J-horror) is lightyears ahead of “Hatchet”. So if you plan on making comments about horror remakes, sequels, and anything made in Japan, you better make fucking sure your movie has the balls to surpass any of them. One thing positive I can say about this movie is that it was slightly better than “Midnight Movie”.