Cast: Danielle Harris, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Kane Hodder
Running time: 85mins
The lowdown: Jason-Voorhees-like killer Victor Crowley rises again in this third instalment of the likeably scrappy, insanely gory horror franchise. Picking up moments after Hatchet II, Crowley is soon causing New Orleans swamp-based mayhem once more, while Danielle Harris and Zach (Gremlins) Galligan attempt to stop him. Plot and character are solid enough to keep momentum going, but fans are here for the red stuff and that runs in rivers.
The full verdict: Hatchet was the little slasher movie that could. Intended by director Adam Green to be “Old School American Horror”, his mantra was no CGI, just good old-fashioned foam rubber and oceans of fake blood.
Green’s on writing duties only for this outing (plus amusing, self-deprecating cameo), but series cameraman McDonnell gets a leg up to orchestrate the concerto of carnage that is Hatchet III and proves himself a natural.
Danielle Harris returns as Marybeth, horrified to learn that Crowley (Hodder, Friday the 13th’s regular Jason Voorhees) has risen again despite her bisecting him at the close of the previous movie.
Crowley expert and journalist Amanda (Williams) recruits Marybeth to help with the dark mojo that will put the vengeful madman down for good. Meanwhile, the local sheriff (Galligan, heavier but still recognisably Billy from Gremlins), his deputies and a hardened SWAT team soon realise going into the woods will give them a big surprise.
Hatchet films are best viewed with mates, six packs and pizza, meaning they won’t trouble award ceremonies any time soon. But, for graphic, imaginative bloodletting the series never fails to deliver the gruesome goods.
Heads are ripped off, caved in, split in twain and the rest of the body is done a similar disservice, and hardcore fans will spot homage to Friday the 13th movies in a number of the spectacular evisceration.
Despite riffing on a single plot idea, the Hatchet films haven’t outstayed their welcome. Here’s hoping a slew of diminishing returns sequels doesn’t spoil this surprisingly tasty meat.