Not holding a candle to the former glory of its predecessor, this sequel offers a redeemingly gory third act after a rather boring first hour.
Part II SIDEBAR: So after Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder; Friday the 13th parts VII-X, Hatchet) survived being burned alive and speared through the neck with an iron gate pole, he pulled a Jason Voorhees and aquatic-ambushed our final survivors Ben (Joel David Moore; Shark Night 3D, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein in Chillerama) and Marybeth (Tamara Feldman; Perfect Stranger)—with the credits rolling as Crowley slovenly rages with Marybeth in his clutches. Replacing Tamara Feldman, Danielle Harris (Halloween I-II, The Black Waters of Echo’s Pond) assumes the role of our surviving heroine whose initial goal was to rid the swamp of Crowley’s curse since, in fact, it was her gator-hunting father (Robert Englund; Zombie Strippers, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Freddy vs Jason) and brother who were killed in part 1’s opening scene.
Writer/director Adam Green (Frozen, The Diary of Anne Frankenstein in Chillerama) delighted audiences with his spoofy horror (Hatchet) paying homage to the Gods of 80s slasher movies, and now he has returned to develop his killer’s folklore. This sequel picks up immediately as Hatchet (2006) left off: with Marybeth in Crowley’s clutches in the swamp. And just as quickly as she finds safety, we learn that her family ties run deeper than both part 1 revealed and deeper than even Marybeth realizes.
Horror icons Tom Holland (Fright Night, Child’s Play), R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Pumpkinhead II, Smothered) and Tony Todd (Final Destination 5, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) round out the cast, which curiously includes Parry Shen (The Hazing/Dead Scared) playing the brother (Shawn) of part 1’s tour guide (Justin).
Hatchet succeeded by virtue of its simplicity: some twenty-somethings randomly get killed in gloriously gory fashion after some basic exposition about their mutant killer is sprinkled in for flavor. This sequel, however remaining playfully spoofy, tries to be more than its stage-setting predecessor, and this may have been its downfall.
The special effects in part 1 yielded outstandingly fun on-screen death scenes. A significant drop from 2006’s $1.5M budget (which was utilized as best I’ve ever seen), this sequel clocks in at $800K. And whereas some gore effects were great, the huge action gap between the opening kill and the third act was really quite boring and it wicked away the spoofy “bad movie” charm of the caricatured characters. That was quite a weak point.
But when the kills start to add up, it all gets fun again and perhaps redeems the film for those patient enough to suffer through the first 60 minutes. The ensuing macabre shenanigans include a sex scene kill complete and a double chainsaw kill—both boasting some mean genital mutilation—along with more decapitation, torso-rending, impalement antics, a brutal curb stomp and a messy head smash. There’s even a rope-and-reel disembowelment followed by strangling someone with their own intestines. The effort is all there, but the execution doesn’t always measure up to the original.
With a little patience, fans of the original should enjoy this even if it fails to do proper justice to its origins.