By Nicholas Barham
If you’re looking for thrills, chills, and lots of bloody kills, then you have come to the right place! Hatchet is a movie that harkens back to the glory days of the slasher genre. Written and directed by Adam Green, Hatchet follows a supernatural killer, known as Victor Crowley, as he stalks a group who were unfortunate enough to find themselves in his swamp. Unfortunately we don’t get to see any crazy green ogres.
Side note: if you are scratching your head at the term “slasher” and not quite sure what that involves you can check out my article on the history of the slasher genre here.
A dark opening, a taste of what is to come
As soon as this campy horror flick begins, we get a taste of the carnage that is to come. We see two men hunting gators in a dark and spooky swamp.
Cue a short and bloody cameo by none other than Robert England (Freddy Krueger) himself.
The pair get split up, and of course this ends horribly as they are brutally killed by an unseen malevolent entity. This opening also doubles as a test. If you can stomach all the gory and squishy details shown in this scene, then congrats you are cleared for entry to this carnival ride.
Meet the cast
The movie cuts away and we are gradually introduced to all the characters that will soon become unwitting victims of Victor Crowley. It’s Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so of course a group of tourists have the bright idea to go on a tour in a spooky backwoods swamp. The cast of characters is nothing to write home about, and as usual are somewhat shallow cardboard cut-outs rather than fully fleshed out characters.
We get some of the usual slasher clichés like the stereotypical ditsy women, the sleazy man, the mysterious, silent stranger etc. On a positive note, there are some genuinely hilarious interactions between these characters, which serves not only to provide some comic relief before the film turns dark, but also helps us feel somewhat connected to these characters before their inevitable demise. All-in-all the characters are not exactly bad or uninteresting, they are simply what you would expect in a slasher movie.
The tour boat of course crashes into a rock leaving them stranded in the swamp, and it is here that the film’s tone takes a sharp turn into darkness and suspense. As they vacate the boat and make their way through the woods, they are relentlessly stalked by the malevolent presence that is Victor Crowley.
His first appearance here is shocking and brutal, and we see the full force of his rage as he hacks to death one character, and literally rips the jaws off another. Things go downhill for our group of heroes here.
Who is Victor Crowley? Portrait of a killer
Slashers have always lived and died off the success and brutality of their killers. It is the killers, not the hapless victims, that make the most impact with audiences.
The way I see it, a successful slasher villain requires the following: A good backstory, they need to be terrifying, and they need to be seemingly unstoppable forces within the world they inhabit.
Well it seems that Adam Green knows his stuff, because Victor Crowley meets all these requirements and then some. In short, Victor Crowley is a perfect addition to the pantheon of slasher icons.
Like any good slasher villain, Victor Crowley has a dark and disturbed backstory. Born with a horrific deformity, Victor spent most of his life secluded deep in the woods with his father. When Victor did venture out into public children were cruel and vicious to him, terrorising him simply because of his appearance.
As a young man, Victor was the victim of a cruel prank that turned lethal. It is only after his death that his reign of killings began, as he haunts the swamp as a revenant, killing anyone who steps onto his land (imagine Shrek, but homicidal).
Victor’s backstory is of course tragic, and is the key to understanding how he went from a secluded and pitiable character, to a crazed killing machine that targets all unfortunate enough to cross his path. His backstory can be summed up in one word: tragedy. He began as an innocent child who was then transformed into a killer thanks to the cruelty of the outside world, becoming an unstoppable supernatural killing machine. There is one way to prevent death at the hands of this madman though… Stay out of his swamp! It seems most of the locals, and even some of the tourists, know of the legend, but still choose to venture into his domain. But you can’t really expect people to think logically within a slasher movie, where is the fun in that!
Special effects, gore, and kills galore: a nostalgic trip for slasher fans
Adam Green has rejected CGI and instead opted for practical effects, which at least in my opinion, makes the film all the more brutal and takes you on a nostalgic ride, reminiscent of slasher classics from the late 80s. The practical effects give the various killings a very gritty feel……..
If you’re like me, and you like it when a slasher doesn’t pull its punches, then you are in for a treat. The killings in Hatchet are brutal and unforgiving. Expect to see the whole gambit from beheadings, dismemberment and more. The violence and gore shown is very over the top, surpassing the arena of realistic and unsettling, instead landing somewhere in the vicinity of campy and stomach churning.
Adam Green clearly knows how to make a perfect slasher. The film is a must-see for anyone nostalgic for the glory days of slasher movies. Hatchet has spawned three sequels: Hatchet II, Hatchet III and Victor Crowley. I don’t know about you, but I am excited to see more of what Victor Crowley has to offer as a new icon of the slasher genre. So what are you waiting for? Pick up a copy of Hatchet, you won’t regret it.