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New Release Review - Hatchet 3 (DVD)

Latest installment of the cult slasher series.
Directed by: BJ McDonnell
Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen, Robert Diago DoQui


Adam Green’s ho-hum horror franchise wheezes on for a third instalment, this time with Green retaining script duties but handing the directorial reigns over to BJ McDonnell, who is efficient when it comes to scenes of gore but less assured at suspense. Green obviously loves the genre and has proven he can handle more mature work with the undervalued Frozen. His love letters to the splatter genre show an infectious enthusiasm but are so derivative, so full of film quiz casting and cameos, that it amounts to karaoke horror. Even his lead monster Victor Crowley is played by one time Jason Vorhees, Kane Hodder.
Following directly on from the second part, this resolves the problem of having your villain being chainsawed in half and having his head blown apart by adding an element of mystical mumbo jumbo, which means he cannot be killed and will continue to reanimate until he gets back the bones of his dead father. Add to the mix Marybeth Dunston (Harris), who has been arrested after entering a police station covered in blood from her meeting with Crowley in the previous film and has peaked the interest of local journalist Amanda Fowler (Williams), who wouldn’t you just no it, is also the sheriff’s ex wife.
Story is not exactly at a premium, events occur just to get from one gore set piece to another like a viscera strewn Road Runner cartoon, but what gore it is. McDonnell is clearly working under the mantra “nothing exceeds like excess” as he piles on the grue, keeping the lo fi practical effects of the franchise well to the fore but also playing it for laughs like a sugar fueled kid who has just watched Peter Jackson's early work. It is hard to take against a film so eager to entertain its fan base, so it feels akin to kicking a puppy to find fault with it. It is certainly a welcome surprise to have a film that wants to entertain and make you jump like a participant on a ghost train ride, rather than depress the shit out of you with its nihilism, which appears to be the lingua franca of the modern horror film.
The trouble is it all feels a bit second hand, relying on casting actors famous for other cult films such as Gremlins and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in lieu of any real attempt at fleshing out real characters. It moves from set piece to set piece (at one stage a swat team turn up to be decimated, as if the writer has just realised that he will run out of people to bump off if he doesn’t parachute in some more cannon fodder) killing off people you barely care about and ones you are presumably meant to care about with the same carefree manner.
At its heart though it just has a craptacular villain. Turning a Jason clone into a steroid pumped hillbilly Hairy Biker, swathed in latex but with no personality or empathy, he is just too one dimensional and faceless to get excited about. Everyone has paid their horror dues now and should move on to better things. Green has proven he is capable of more, whether new guy McDonnell has the chops remains to be seen.
4/10


Jason Abbey

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