Let me make this clear from the get-go: I am a huge fan of Adam Green and of ArieScope Pictures. If you’re seeking a review of Victor Crowley (i.e., Hatchet IV) written with 100% objectivity, I urge you to look elsewhere, because I’m gushing so hard with fanboy love that the letters on my keyboard are slowly dissolving away. Before I continue, let me offer you a last chance to leave this website and go visit Facebook or PornHub instead, before things get too gushy…
…Good, you stayed. Your reward is the verdict, up front, on Victor Crowley, with all the fanboy nonsense momentarily eschewed: this movie is everything we hoped it would be, and it delivers everything even the most demanding of fans could ask for.
The kills are more brutal than ever (with one in particular that was actually pretty hard to watch), the comedic moments are well-placed and unobtrusive to the tension, and the character chemistry works better than in previous installments or in most other slasher movies. Although it wouldn’t be fair to call Victor Crowley a “reboot,” it certainly reminds fans what made the first film so special, and it courts our demented hearts all over again.
Victor Crowley isn’t “perfect,” since any film snob or ArieScope detractor will find something to nitpick along the way, but it’s the logical next step in the Hatchet franchise. The first trilogy told one complete story, centered around Marybeth and the mythology of Victor Crowley, and that story was wrapped with a bow in Hatchet III.
Victor Crowley takes place a decade later, after the massacres on Honey Island Swamp have entered the zeitgeist of pop culture and the sole survivor (played by Perry Shen, of Hatchet I-III) stands accused of committing the murders despite a reinvigorated public interest in the legend of Victor Crowley. A group of amateur filmmakers decide to take advantage of the hype by filming a fundraising trailer for their Crowley feature at the actual site of the murders, which has been turned into a tourist attraction. Needless to say (this is a horror movie, after all), things go poorly for the film crew when they accidentally raise Victor Crowley from the dead.
The true genius of Victor Crowley is the setting. Probably 80% of the movie takes place in or around a crashed airplane, and Adam Green uses this claustrophobic setting to his creative advantage, with various levels of tension between the characters adding another layer to the menace of the hatchet-wielding murderer picking them off one by one. The dialogue is snarky and biting, and there are quite a few “snap-snap-oh-no-he-didn’t!” moments that cater to our interest in the survival (or awful demise) of these characters.
The cast members, as always, are impressive across the board. The most notable new member to the Hatchet family is Brian “Q” Quinn, of Impractical Jokers fame; not only is Quinn great for a laugh, he’s also a surprisingly great actor capable of tugging at our emotions during “human moments” in the story. This is reminiscent of Kane Hodder’s spotlight moments in the first trilogy, stripped of the Crowley makeup with only his acting chops to rely on; much like Hodder, Quinn succeeds at showing audiences he’s a multi-talented performer who’s good for more than just his appearance.
Also appearing in Victor Crowley are Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), Chase Williamson (John Dies at the End), Laura Ortiz (Holliston), and Katie Booth (Tell Me How I Die).
According to Adam Green, Victor Crowley will only be available for viewing on tour stops until Winter 2017 or Spring 2018, with no screeners whatsoever released to reviewers. It will be released on DVD and digital format probably sometime early 2018. More information on this, and the ongoing tour dates, is available at www.ariescope.com.
Now, with the review out of the way, indulge me momentarily while I talk about the experience of being at the surprise premiere at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood, CA…
Being at the Victor Crowley premiere was the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. I felt this way even before it was announced this wasn’t the 10th Anniversary Hatchet screening, as advertised, but a reward for members of the Hatchet Army loyal enough to show up for a movie they could either go out and purchase or just watch online. Standing in line with fellow diehard horror fans—raving on to one-another about our favorite movie moments, kills, scream queens, and makeup artists—was almost as invigorating as meeting the ArieScope team and all the horror icons who showed up to just to chill with fans. Nothing could’ve prepared me for how special a feeling simply waiting in line gave me, and although the theatre was by no means filled to capacity, it was bursting with palpable love from kindred souls who would walk through Hell and back in defense of the genre.
Among the ArieScope icons present at the premiere were Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, R.A. Mihailoff, Tom Holland, Derek Mears, Perry Shen, and so many more. There was also Dee Snider, Joe Knetter, Joe Lynch, and Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton of Dread Central, who coined the phrase “Hatchet Army” and hosted the Q&A following the movie. Absolutely none of these people kept themselves isolated from their fans, either, but instead attended the event as regular rowdy diehards who nerded out as much as the best of us. I doubt any horror convention in the world could bring so many horror icons together in one auditorium, nor could any other genre provide such accessibility between those “in the business” and those who keep the business alive.
I’m telling you these things not only because they’re exciting, or because I got to meet the same people who have, in their individual ways, nurtured my love for all things horror-related over the years. I’m telling you these things because this entire event was free, organized by Adam Green and all those behind the scenes at the ArieScope family, and offered as a celebration not only of Hatchet, but of the absolute joy our favorite movies can bring us regardless of how old we get or how jaded we become by the real world.
Thank you, Adam Green and everyone else in the Hatchet Army or ArieScope family, for reminding us of this.