Hatchet (2007) – By Duane L. Martin

 Hatchet is a film about a baby that was born severely deformed down in the swamps of Louisiana. He was raised anyway by his father and grew to be an adult, but he was incessantly teased and abused by the local kids because of how he looked. One night, the jerky kids were throwing firecrackers at their cabin to taunt him, and one of them lit the place on fire. He freaked and was pounding on the door but couldn’t get out. The father came home right then and grabbed a hatchet to chop the door down so his son could get out, but the hatchet accidentally goes through the door and plants itself firmly in the son’s skull, killing him. The father then goes into a fit of depression and wastes away until he finally dies years later.

Jump to modern day. The kid, or at least his tormented spirit is back in the flesh, and he don’t like no one hangin’ out in his swamp. He ends up killing a father and son pair of rednecks, which then leads to the daughter of the rednecks, who actually looks or acts like neither of them, to join a swamp tour group full of people you won’t really care about on a trip into the deepest darkest recesses of the swamp to find out what happened to her father and brother. She’s the only one in the group who knows about Hatchet, and the only one smart enough to have brought a gun along. Unfortunately, she’s also the only character in the film you can actually care anything about. Well, maybe her and one other guy, but not so much with him. The rest of the film is basically Hatchet killing the group off one by one…as would be expected in a film like this.

Hatchet bills itself as "old school American horror", and yet in most every way I can think of, its just more of the usual. I can’t honestly think of a single new thing that Hatchet brings to the table of horror. Harry Knowles, from Ain’t It Cool News, says that Hatchet is the "Next icon of horror," and "so indescribably awesome that you just cannot conceive." Brad Miska from Bloody-Disgusting.com says that it’s, "amongst the greatest slasher flicks of all time" and Larry Carroll from MTV says that the film, "has audiences shedding tears of terror – and laughter." That’s all from the package itself.

Now let’s take those one by one. First, Hatchet is hardly the next icon of horror. Oh I suppose he could be if they make a series of these films, but if you look back at the real horror icons, those icons were all in series of films that had good theater runs and that back in the day, actually brought something new and cool to the genre. As it stands right now, I can’t see Hatchet becoming any more of a horror icon than the demon guy in Jeepers Creepers. As for being so indescribably awesome that you just cannot conceive… Uh, no. It was a good movie, and I would never consider saying otherwise, but indescribably awesome? That guy must have a REALLY low threshold for what it takes to reach the level of awesome if he describes it as "indescribably awesome." Again, it’s a good movie to be sure, but it’s sure as hell not as good as all that.

As for being amongst the greatest slasher flicks of all time, I wouldn’t think so. If you look back on some of the greats of the genre, this one seems like just another one thrown onto the pile that doesn’t quite measure up to the greats.

As for shedding tears of terror – and laughter, I shed no tears of either. I personally didn’t find the film scary at all, and as far as laughs go, yes there were funny moments in the film, but nothing that had me rolling on the floor in fits of hilarity.

Now, with that all said, you probably think I didn’t like this movie. That’s not true at all. This film, taken on its own merits, isn’t a bad film at all. In fact, it’s rather a good film with some really nice effects and a really well done bad guy who actually looks really cool. There are some creepy parts in the film to be sure, it’s well shot, well edited, the acting was decent and it had cameo appearances by some people like Robert Englund and Tony Todd who actually are icons of horror.

The characters in this film, with the exception of the daughter of the rednecks, are all generally fun characters, but they’re no one you’d actually care about. You see them die one by one and it’s like, "Oh ok…another one dead. Who’s next?" Now they do die in some rather fun and creative ways, which is a good thing because if they didn’t, this movie would just rot away on the shelves and fade into obscurity.

I think part of my problem with this movie is that the killer is unstoppable. You think you stopped him and then he just shows up again perfectly fine. You damage him to a point where he shuts down, and then a short time later he’s back again like nothing happened. It would have been a lot more interesting, and probably more scary if he stayed damaged or messed up and still kept coming. The fact that he kept showing up again like nothing happened really took some of the scariness out of it, because every time they stopped him, you knew he was just going to show up again like nothing happened. There was no wondering if maybe this was the time they actually messed him up enough to put an end to him. There was also no wondering if any of them would get away at the end, because you knew he was just going to keep showing up to kill the next one. How can it be scary without wonder? The only question was, when would he show up next…never IF he would show up. That I think was the single biggest problem I had with this film, and what limited it to being only a good film and not a great one.

Again, and I can’t stress this enough, this is a good film. It’s entertaining and has a lot of fun moments and dialogue. I guess I’m just kind of irritated by all these other reviewers kissing it’s ass like it’s the second coming or something. It’s not. It’s just a good slasher flick that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes good horror films.

See, when I think of great horror films, I think of films like the Phantasm series, the Re-Animator Series, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Blood Feast, and many of the other greats of the past. Much of the greatness in horror has been lost nowadays because it’s hard to come up with anything new to bring to the table. Still, some horror films of today still manage to do it. Jeepers Creepers was genuinely scary and you really pulled for the main characters. Jeepers Creepers 2 sucked, but man that first one was scary. Slither was creepy as hell and the characters in that film were just amazingly well written and really fun to watch. Black Sheep was full of zombie sheep. How cool is that? Fido had people living in a 50’s type era with zombies as pets and servants. Again, it brought something new to the table, and all of the movies I just mentioned were either super cool, super fun, or both. Hatchet, as far as I’m concerned, never manages to be anything more than just another slasher flick with moments of fun, some relatively amusing characters and a cool looking killer. I guess after all the hype, I was just hoping for more. It certainly doesn’t measure up to those other films I just mentioned, but it’s not bottom of the barrel either. It’s just kinda somewhere in the middle.

Now should this become a series of films, I’d be interested to see how the future ones turn out. Maybe Hatchet could become a horror icon with the proper stories and quality of film making. As it stands now though with this film, for me the whole thing just came off as somewhere between average and above average.

The DVD was released from Anchor Bay as an unrated director’s cut and is loaded with special features that will give you quite a bit of stuff to go through after the film is over.

The big question always ends up being, "should you see this film?" Well, to be honest, yes you should, but there are others, like the ones mentioned above that you should see first. I definitely recommend seeing it at some point, but I wouldn’t make it the next film you go out of your way to see.

If you’d like to find out more about the film, you can check out the film’s website at http://www.hatchetmovie.com.