Hatchet is a 2006 slasher film written and directed by Adam Green which introduces us to the new horror icon Victor Crowley played by horror legend Kane Hodder. It follows a group of tourists through the Louisiana bayou as they set out on a “haunted boat ride” through the swamps in the back woods far from Bourbon Street. Their tour guide tells them about an urban legend known as Victor Crowley. He was a local boy who was tragically and accidentally killed by his father. Naturally, the trip takes a turn for the worse when the boat sinks and the tourists and their guide are stranded right in the middle of Victor’s swamp.
SPOILER ALERT: This review will speak openly about the plot of the movie and will contain spoilers. If you’ve not seen this and you don’t want to know the story stop reading. You’ve been warned.
The movie opens with two men (one of them being Robert Englund) fishing in a swamp in the middle of the night. They are quickly dispatched by an unknown “thing” in pretty gory fashion. Cut to Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street where we’re introduced to a group of friends including Ben (Joel Moore) and his best friend Marcus (Deon Richmond). Ben has just broken up with his girlfriend and isn’t up for the traditional Mardi Gras events (IE, trying to get laid) and decides to go on a haunted swamp tour. His buddy agrees with him and they head off to find a tour guide. They first run across Rev. Zombie (Tony Todd) but find out his tour is shut down. Rev. Zombie suggests they try down the street. Ben and Marcus take his suggestion and find guide Shawn (Parry Shen) who appears to have no idea what the hell he’s doing.
In addition to Ben and Marcus, Misty (Mercedes McNab) and Jenna (Joleigh Fioreavanti) are there for the tour. They’re two porn star type actresses who are filming a Girls Gone Wild-ish video with their director Doug Shapiro (Joel Murray). Jim (Richard Riehle) and Shannon (Patrika Darbo), a Minnesota couple, and shy Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) round out the rest of the tour folks on the tour boat. As they set out for their haunted swamp tour, they’re given the horror-cliche warning from a local that if they go into the swamp they’re looking for trouble.
As their guide leads them through the swamp, it becomes apparent that he has no idea what he’s doing and he’s just out to make a quick buck. He leads them past the Crowley house where he tells the story of how Mr. Crowley whacked his son in the face with a hatchet. Right around this time, the tour guide manages to run the boat ashore and it begins to sink. While they’re getting off the boat the old guy from Minnesota gets his leg bit by an alligator. They manage to get everyone to shore safely with Jim bleeding like a stuck pig where Marybeth produces a gun and proceeds to inform us that it was her father and brother that we saw in the opening scenes and they’ve been missing for days. She then tells the true story of Victor Crowley.
You see, Victor was a deformed child who was kept in seclusion by his father to keep him from ridiculed by the locals. One Halloween, some of those local kids play a prank on Victor by throwing fireworks at his house. Naturally the house goes up in flames with Victor inside. Victor’s father tries hacking down the door with his hatchet, but Victor had his face pressed against the inside of the door. The hatchet goes through the door hitting Victor in the face and killing him. Years later, Victor’s dad dies of a broken heart (sniffle). It is now believed that Victor roams the swamp killing all who enter. Not shockingly, the group looks up and low and behold… they’re standing in front of the Crowley house.
And then… shit… gets… real.
Victor kills the Minnesota couple (chopping him in half and ripping her jaw wide open) and the director in spectacular fashion. In a Scooby Doo-esque manner, the teens investigate the Crowley house looking for weapons to take on the man beast Crowley. Jenna is attacked with a belt sander to the mouth (yep… you read that right) and tour guide Shawn gets decapitated with a shovel in a rather ingenious way. Jenna who miraculously hasn’t died after taking belt sander to the face is finished by being impaled on the shovel that was used to kill Shawn.
The remaining folks concoct a plan to lure Victor back to his house and set him and the house on fire. Misty stands guard only to be ripped limb from limb off screen and then thrown back on screen. Marybeth and Marcus manage to set Victor on fire but luckily (for Victor) it starts to “horror movie” rain at the right moment to extinguish the flames. Victor begins to chase the remaining 3 through a cemetery. It appears as they are going to escape but the gate out is locked. Marcus is killed and Victor throws a pole at Ben and Marybeth and it goes through Ben’s foot. Victor then charges the couple but Marybeth bends the pole (still sticking through Ben’s foot) so it’s pointed at Victor and he impales himself.
Ben and Marybeth board a boat and flee the scene. As they’re floating in the middle of the lake, Marybeth is pulled overboard by Victor and snared by seaweed. She sees Ben’s arm in the water and grabs it only to see that she’s being pulled up by Victor, who is holding Ben’s severed forearm. The film ends abruptly with Victor clutching her as she screams.
Overall, the cast here does a great job. Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley and in flashbacks Mr. Thomas Crowley is amazing. He’s big and bulky and clearly knows how to move around the screen as a horror icon. If you’re a horror fan you’re going to be hard pressed to NOT think Jason Voorhees when you see Victor Crowley. Joel Moore is good here as Ben but after seeing Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story I just can’t take him all that seriously. Deon Richmond suffers that same treatment as I simply can’t shake the thought of him playing Malik “The Token Black Guy” Token in Not Another Teen Movie. In fact, with about 10 minutes left in the film, I actually said to myself, “Hey… they black guy’s going to make it!” Naturally, about 12 seconds later he gets his arms ripped off holding true to THAT horror movie cliche.
Tamara Feldman plays Marybeth admirably. Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti play the slutty girls to perfection and if I could get over Joel Murray being a Murray brother, he’d be awesome as the sleazy director. Parry Shen shines as the tour guide the bumbling Minnesota couple that knows too much for their own good is played to perfection by Richard Riehle and Patrika Darbo. I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out horror legends Robert Englund and Tony Todd. Always good to see those icons even if it’s for bit parts.
This is where Hatchet shines. Some of the most innovative and gory deaths I’ve seen in quite some time. I’m not sure why, the the belt sander to the face that Jenna receives really stands out in my mind as does the severed head shovel stomp that tour guide Shawn gets. The LEAST gory death we’re given is when Robert Englund bites it at the beginning of the movie and even that is pretty gory when they pan over his body. There’s plenty of blood and guts here to keep the gore hounds happy. I wasn’t thrilled here with Victor’s “last” death as impaling himself seemed a really weak ending. Luckily, he wasn’t really dead. I’m a big movie ending guy, so I would have much preferred a more definitive ending, but by that point in the movie I was sold on this bloody good time.
Hatchet was selected for the 2006 London FrightFest Film Festival, the Sitges International Film Festival, the Fantastic Fest, Germany’s Fantasy Film Festival, the October Screamfest Horror Film Festival, the 2007 Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival and France’s Weekend De La Peur. There’s a reason the film received such high accolades. It’s simply a brilliant horror movie. The movie poster states: “It’s not a remake. It’s not a sequel. And it’s not based on a Japanese one. Old school American horror.” That’s a perfect way to describe it. It’s 93 minutes of a bloody and gory good time. I’ve heard Victor Crowley described as “The next horror icon”. I’m not sure I’d go that far but I can say that absolutely loved every minute of screen time he got. Kane Hodder is a legend and brings to Victor Crowley all the great things he was able to do with Jason Voorhees. I didn’t care for the non-ending ending we were given, but by that point I was so enamored with this film that I’d already put the sequel into my Netflix queue. Strong recommend.
Have you seen Hatchet? Leave us a comment below with your thoughts?