Ben (Joel David Moore) and his buddy Marcus (Deon Richmond) head up to the bayou for Mardi Gras. Ben talks Marcus into taking a haunted swamp tour. They and their companions: tour guide Shawn (Parry Shen), married couple Jim and Shannon (Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo), porno director Doug (Joel Murray) and his subjects Jenna (Joleigh Fiore) and Misty (Mercedes McNab), and sullen loner Mary Beth (Amara Zaragoza) set out to explore the lair of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), the ghost of a disfigured man-child who was accidentally killed by his father (also Hodder) while trying to save him from a fire caused by cruel teenagers. Crowley is still hungry for revenge, and begins to pick off the tourists one by one. Does the mysterious Mary Beth have the key to their survival?
I first heard of Hatchet when my husband Andrew told me he wanted to see it because it is, as the tag-line states, “Old School American Horror.” It’s a throwback to ‘70s and early ‘80s horror movies like Eaten Alive, Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th. A loving tribute, it features cameos from horror gods Robert Englund and Tony Todd, and Kane Hodder of course. The special effects are down-to-earth and practical, as they were in the ’70s before CGI.
Since the films previously mentioned were the “New Horror,” (as they used to be considered in their day) then I suppose Hatchet is the New New Horror. The gore is amped up tremendously, with deaths like a belt sander to the face or a head ripped in half. The gore is liberally sprinkled with dark humor, as the violence is so outlandish it crosses the border into near slapstick.
A refreshing aspect of the film is that it does away with the tired paradigm of naughty teenagers equals slaughter. Ben ironically runs into trouble fleeing the excess of Mardi Gras, asking Marcus, “Haven’t you seen enough boobs?” Unfortunately, the aspect of naughtiness is retained in the form of Jenna and Misty. Misty is particularly stupid, spouting lines like, “Your nipples are dumb” and “You’re syphilis.” Overall the women are weepy and whiny, though Mary Beth is somewhat of an exception. Check it out if you’re in the mood for a modern slasher with a boatload of gore.