I still have a crystal clear recollection of my first experience with the original Hatchet film. I non-enthusiastically picked up a DVD copy back in 2007 attracted more to the fact that actress Danielle Harris (always a fan) was attached to the project than I was interested in the film’s synopsis. As I pushed play and collected myself in preparation for my in-home screening, my expectations were lower a slugs connection to the earth. At the conclusion of its brisk 85-minute running time I was enthralled and thoroughly entertained. But in no Tim Burton imagination did I foresee a franchise. Boy, was I wrong.
The violent exploits of Victor Crowley (played consistently by horror icon Kane Hodder) in a Louisiana swamp spanned three films over the next eight years with each installment being ferociously more intense than the last.
In 2013, Victor Crowley’s menacing of Honey Island Swamp came to disgustingly over-the-top end. It was a fitting end to a franchise that combined consistent storytelling with masterful gore. The boxset was complete. So I thought.
Writer/director Adam Green was searching for his next project when he got advice from the late great George Romero who nudged the notion of doing what you love. As evidenced, Adam Green loves Hatchet. The resulting return to the source material is Victor Crowley (Nice try, but I will always reference it as Hatchet IV). Taking place ten years after the original film, the fourth installment resurrects Victor Crowley so that he can once again increase his victim’s count.
Before the audience gets treated to the murderous rampage of our title character, we get the requisite back story to propel the characters on their collision course with death. In Victor Crowley, we get reintroduced to Hatchet III survivor Andrew Yong (Perry Shen). Andrew has written a book about his experiences in the swamp and his survival from the Crowley carnage but many believe that Andrew himself might actually be the one responsible for the some 40 deaths attributed to the crime scene. Andrew longs to separate himself from the tragedy but when his publicist reveals an offer of $1 million to return to the swamp, greed overtakes his trepidation.
In another sub-plot, three aspiring filmmakers (Katie Booth, Laura Ortiz and Chase Williamson) head to the swamp in an effort to make a trailer for a film they hope to secure financing. There, they meet up with the comic relief addition to the cast, aspiring actor Dillon (Dave Sheridan).
Let’s be honest, the story, characters and sub-plots of the Hatchet films are not the reason fans flock to the series. So we can expend our time and energy telling you that there is a plane crash and that the characters all end up taking refuge inside the fuselage. We can further inflate the word count of the review with details about a character’s pregnancy, the relationship between Andrew’s character and his celebrity ex-wife and a book signing scene which will be just as memorable days after the screening as was any of the killings. But audiences don’t care. They (we) want the kills as grotesque as our stomachs can stand, and on this front, Victor Crowley does not disappoint.
After Victor Crowley is resurrected thanks to a YouTube clip – let me type that again so it sinks in – After Victor Crowley is resurrected thanks to a YouTube clip, the gloves are off and the blood runs freely. Heads get stomped, limbs are ripped off and characters are violated in true Adam Green style. By the time the film gets around to the final showdown between Crowley and the last few survivors, audiences will have had their fill of exactly what they had intended when they purchased their tickets. It is in no way shocking that many will die, the shocks come from the inventive ways Green and his crew pull off each fate.
Is Victor Crowley a good movie? Let me answer question with another question…Does is matter? Adam Green is clearly having a ball here and audiences are lucky to be able to sit back and enjoy the ride through his twisted and talented mind. The humor is frequent and the gore is abundant and if you buy a ticket expecting anything different then you haven’t done your Hatchet homework.