Chainsaws and hatchets and shotguns, oh my….
Picking up at the exact terrifying moment where the 2007 original left off – albeit with a different actress in the lead (Danielle Harris, replacing Tamara Feldman) – Hatchet II starts as it means to go on; that a guy gets strangled with his own intestines before the opening credits gives a good indication of the dark delights to come.
After spending a horrific night in the Louisiana swamps, where she discovered that her father and brother had been killed by local boogeyman Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), Marybeth (Harris) emerges bloodied, bruised and determined to avenge their deaths. Convincing Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd, in a role much meatier than his cameo in the first movie) to take her back to the swamps, Marybeth – along with a ragtag group of local heavies, all lured along with the promise of cash – returns to face Crowley in a battle to the death(s).
Hatchet II, like its much-loved predecessor, is a film that’s clearly been made for the fans. Having been provlaimed as one of the shinging new talents of modern horror after the release of Hatchet, filmmaker Green has resisted studio advances and continued to make the films he loves for audiences he knows will appreciate them. And while that ethos has resulted in small but perfectly formed genre pieces Spiral and Frozen, it also means that Hatchet II is bigger and brasher than before.
While the back story of the Crowley legend has been expanded to provide a more personal motive for the character of Marybeth, in truth the narrative is a convenient hook on which to hang those scene-stealing st pieces. And the kills on show here are enough to keep gorehounds sated for months; everything from chainsaws to outboard motors, tables to sanders and – of course – that infamous hatchet are utilised to satisfying, squelchy effect, That the cheers of the FrightFest audience at the film’s World Premiere got louder as the bodies stacked up proves Green knows exactly where to pitch his movie – and does so perfectly.
It’s an overwhelming sense of self, however, that makes Hatchet II so successful. Green’s awareness of the genre, it’s traditions, foibles and fan expectations, have enabled him to craft another slice of horror heaven. From the casting of legends like Kane Hodder and Tony Todd to enough in-jokes to fill a convention and some cheer-worthy dialogue (“I’m going to bury that Hatchet deep into his fucking face,” promises heroine Marybeth) – not to mention the laugh-out-loud gallows humour that permeates throughout – Green knows how to play along with, rather than exploit, a genre that is so often abused. And, by building on the solid precedent he set with his first film, he has ensured that not only is Hatchet II a sequel thatcompliments the original, but it’s a balls-to-the-wall bloody blast from start to finish.
Stars Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder
Director & Screenplay Adam Green
Running Time 1hr 30mins