Written by El Articulo Definido
Those fine folks at Anchor Bay are doing their very best to not only distribute low-budget horror, but now are producing low-budget horror. Their latest release Hatchet is set to hit shelves on DVD on December 17. Much like Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Hatchet was not given a wide release. However, there was much hoopla surrounding the film in horror circles as the tagline boasted, “Old School American Horror.”
The problem here is that the only thing “old school” about it is the amount of tits in this film. They’re everywhere, and yes, I enjoyed Mercedes McNab (Harmony Kendall from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) perpetually topless, but too much of a good thing is what it is and isn’t enough to distract from the fact that there is so little story, too much coincidence, and a really shitty monster.
The premise is that Ben (Joel David Moore) is hopelessly broken up about his girlfriend since Jr. High breaking up with him, so his friends take him to Mardi Gras where he can’t even enjoy streets seemingly paved with boobs. Instead he wants to take a haunted swamp tour. Against his better judgment, Bud from The Cosby Show (Deon Richmond) joins him. There they meet a would-be Joe Francis played by Joel Murray, his two topless bimbos, a woman who believes her Dad was murdered by the deformed Victor Crowley (our lame monster), and the bumbling tour guide (Parry Shen).
There is no plot, just backstory for each character, and the fact that they’re all on the same boat together. Of course, once the boat crashes into a rock and they all must seek land, our story kicks into high gear and we find out about the deformed Victor Crowley who caught a hatchet to the face while his Dad was attempting to rescue him from a fire. Now he’s trapped in the night he died, and there’s little that our hapless victims can do to stop the inevitability of their fate.
The gore in this film looks okay, but the monster is just not scary, nor does he have a backstory that separates him from the pantheon of ‘80s movie monsters. There is nothing new here, and way too many continuity errors to just simply enjoy it. To add to my point about nothing new, Hatchet even panders to the idea of “old school” by using cameos from Robert Englund and Tony Todd, and electing to use Kane Hodder as their monster. Homage is nice, but I’d like to see a horror film that is just simply a horror film, not needing its predecessors to give it street cred.
The DVD has been packaged in a nice two-disc set that features the theatrical release, as well as the unrated director’s cut, and there are also some nice extras that include commentary, interviews, and some behind-the-scenes stuff. I didn’t make it to any of it as the theatrical release left me needing lots of time before I could ever revisit it again.
It’s not that the film left me mad. Again, there’s lots of boobs and gore, but not enough to save it from itself. Going back to where I started, it’s refreshing to see that Anchor Bay is really trying to create rather than just distribute, but I’m sure there was a much better script laying on someone’s desk somewhere.