In 2006, an unlikely new horror franchise appeared at a time when modern horror had lost its sense of fun in a midst of torture porn and nihilism; a low-budget old school slasher with as many (good) bad jokes as memorable killshots, defying many major studios and cynical critics by doing great business on DVD and online, introducing the audience to Victor “Hatchetface” Crowley, a mutated dungareed brute, with a penchant for axes and power tools who misses his daddy and has vowed to tear apart those who split them apart in the first place.
A few years later, director Adam Green (Frozen, Spiral) returned with a sequel, picking up precisely from the ending of part one, upping the frenzied splatter and taking a darker tone, but still impressive enough to keep its fans satiated and baying for one more time.
And so, due to fan demand, Crowley’s back for a third (and purportedly final) time to finish off the rest of the cast and additional chainsaw fodder, this time with the return of the humour which made the series so fun in the first place, though maybe a little bit messier than before.
Returning to the role of Mary Beth for a second time, Danielle Harris (Halloween 4&5, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Urban Legend) emerges bloodied and worn from the night’s previous events only to find dawn’s still a long time away. Disbelieving of her story that fabled undead maniac Crowley(Kane Hodder) had returned and made mincemeat of the various tourists, bounty hunters and locals littered around the swamps, Police Sherriff Fowler (Zach Galligan, still amazingly looking just as he did in Gremlins: The New Batch 25 years earlier) locks her up and sends officers and mortuary technicians to collect the corpses and prove that the whole case is closed, but within no time the bodies stack up and Mary Beth knows she has no choice but to face him one more time. And so the scene is set for a final showdown, but who will survive this time…?
For the final chapter, Adam Green has stepped away from the director’s chair, though still the scriptwriter and co-producer, giving him a chance to shape the conclusion he believes it requires if not in the flesh, handing the directorial reins to first-timer BJ McDonnell, camera operator for the previous entries in the series, and the change in direction shows, Green showing more flair in both the build-ups and inevitable deaths as well as the more comical touches.
This still feels very much as a treat for the fans from the same gang however, following Green’s tried and tested approach of casting series and genre regulars in the supporting roles, including Derek Mears simply so he and Kane Hodder get to match up in a battle of the former Jason Voorheeses, even heralding the opening credits with a song by Gwar, lead by recently departed Dave Brockie who was a regular member of the cast on Green’s horror themed sitcom Holliston, which lends itself as an unexpectedly fitting tribute to his co-conspirator.
One big problem with this third entry however, considering their impact in previous entries, is a less spectacular, let alone imaginative, use of practical effects, possibly due to budgetary constraints, masked slightly by efficiently fast editing to distract the viewer from noticing just how shoddily and clumsily the bodies hit the floor.
That said however, for many fans this entry will deliver just what they expect, as well as many surprises to appease the regulars, and reaches its conclusion satisfyingly, considering just how insane the night has turned out to be over the course of three features.
Highly unlikely to grab more attention than its core audience, Hatchet 3 is nevertheless a damn sight better than most threequels deserve to be, and certainly a lot more fun.