Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, R.A. Mihailoff, AJ Bowen, Tom Holland, Kathryn Fiore, Parry Shen, Rileah Vanderbilt, Ed Ackerman, Rick McCallum, Colton Dunn, David Foy, Nick Principe, Alexis Peters, and Kane Hodder
Directed by Adam Green
Back to the bayou we go with Adam Green at the reins in his hotly anticipated Hatchet II. Picking up at literally the exact moment that the first film ended, we find the beleaguered Marybeth (now played by the gorgeous Danielle Harris) escaping the clutches of madman ghost Victor Crowley. Her rescue comes in the form of a one-eyed local fisherman who gives her refuge at his cabin – that is, until he discovers who she is and unceremoniously throws her out. It seems that Crowley’s rage may have something to do with her particular bloodline, and anyone involved with her is a definite target for the hatchet-wielding monstrosity.
The one who can provide the answers to Marybeth’s riddle comes in the form of Tony Todd’s Reverend Zombie, thrust into the spotlight this time as a main player. Gathering together a rag-tag band of hunters and trappers, Zombie leads Marybeth back into the forbidden swamp to track down his missing boat and Crowley himself. Things aren’t quite what they seem, however, as Zombie has his own motives for being there…
One thing’s for sure, though – once Crowley picks up on the invaders in his territory, shit’s gonna get bloody.
And bloody it gets! With Hatchet II Green throws a big two-fingered salute to the “less is more” crowd as the kills come thick, fast, and gory. The body count here is phenomenal, with each Crowley victim meeting a more grisly end than the last – all presented with glorious practical effects work. To describe individual kills would be considered spoilers here as Hatchet II really is a simple body count flick; in fact, it revels in being so just as the original did, if not more. What I will say, however, is that the death met by Crowley’s final victim is the best piece of on-screen ultra-violence I’ve witnessed all year. If you aren’t hollering when it happens, you’ve likely hated the movie.
The cast are all-round excellent. There’s nary a negative thing to be said about any of them, with a few throwbacks to characters from the original film proving very entertaining. The opening credit sequence alone is brilliantly constructed, taking us through the kill zones of the first film’s ill-fated subjects.
Humor runs rampant throughout Hatchet II, even more so than in the original. Punchlines come in an almost steady stream through both visuals and the dialogue, the best of which are a song sung by the comic relief character played by Colton Dunn, and another character that refuses to speak – right up until his imminent screaming death.
This is where it would be pertinent to say that Hatchet II is most certainly going to be a love it or hate it type of flick. From the beginning, it hoists a carefree flag and waves it in your face for every minute of the runtime. This isn’t a serious horror movie by any means – it’s a hack ‘n slash love letter to the body count flicks of yesteryear. If you didn’t like the first one, then stay far, far away – Hatchet II won’t change your mind about Crowley and his swamp.
Now, the film was a very quick production and at times it shows. Not through any major problems, but simply minor niggles that you’ll pick up on occasionally such as a couple of randomly changing accents and a few pieces of slightly shoddy effects work. It may start playing on your mind a little as you try to decide whether or not this is actually better than the first movie; but as soon as Victor Crowley walks out of the trees carrying what must be the biggest chainsaw ever committed to film, you suddenly realize what Green is doing here and can’t help but fall in love.
Being a fun love letter to the genre, Hatchet II is chock-full of genre references. Look out for the Jack Chop (with free fahkin’ glowstick!) in Reverend Zombie’s store, a nod to Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Joe Lynch quite horrifically losing his jaw, and multiple genre personalities including Lloyd Kaufman and our very own Uncle Creepy chowing down on some cookies. Adam Green is having a lot of fun here with absolutely no qualms in making a film that admires exactly what he admires. Take it or leave it, Hatchet II demands that you simply switch off your brain, strap in and enjoy.
With this follow-up, the ever-lovable Green has completed the perfect couple of movies for your gore ‘n beer night. Minus the distraction of the actress playing the lead character changing, both films could quite easily be joined right together to make one hell of a fun three hours as the carnage escalates. Hatchet II is twice the gore, twice the intensity, twice the fun, love and balls-out (literally!) craziness of the original. If the first one floats your boat, then you’d better book your ticket for this next tour of Crowley’s swamp as soon as you possibly can. There’s no way you’ll regret it – or come back with all your pieces!
4 out of 5
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