Release Date: June 14th, 2013 (Limited & VOD)
Director: BJ McDonnell
MPAA Rating: NR
Film Pulse Score: 4.5/10
The first Hatchet, released in 2006, came during a time where the slasher had all but disappeared into the depths of the bargain basement DVD bins. It breathed new life into a stagnant and over-saturated sub genre by bringing an interesting story, ridiculous over the top gore, and a fresh new monster to terrorize teens. As with all moderately successful horror franchises, sequels were planned, and in 2012 we saw the release of Hatchet II. Though it was as much a bloodbath as the first, the poor dialogue and dull story made it forgettable and nothing more than run of the mill. Now we come to the supposed final installment, Hatchet III. While it certainly exceeds its predecessors in the gore department (if you thought that was even possible), it again feels like a tired retread of the first.
The film picks up directly after the events of the second film, with Marybeth (Danielle Harris) obliterating Victor Crowley in the most disgusting ways she can come up with. She then turns herself into the police, who send a team out to the woods to recover the bodies of the victims and investigate what happened. Of course, Crowley comes back to life and immediately begins thinking of new and horrific ways to slaughter everyone in sight.
Visually, the film is slightly more pleasing than your typical low-budget horror flick. Camera operator BJ McDonnell makes his directorial debut here, and while the directing might not be very strong, at least it’s not a horrible film to look at. The visuals mostly consist of people being eviscerated in a variety of ways, but the practical effects make everything much more visceral and disgusting, which works to the film’s favor.
It’s this level of violence and gore that is really the only positive element in the movie. While there’s a veritable who’s who of horror in the cast, featuring Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Derek Mears, and Jason Trost, all the performances are fairly mediocre, however most of the acting just came in the form of screaming, running, and dying.
While the plot does an adequate job of tying up the legend of Victor Crowley, it’s still paper thin and feels like it’s just there as an excuse to have more people be massacred by the hand, or hatchet as it were, of Crowley. Some horror fans may be okay with this. The film starts with a bloodbath and never really loses momentum and I could see how some may find that appealing, but for a franchise that always tried to break the mold of old school American horror, this does little to achieve that.
On the plus side, less talking and banter means having to sit through less cringeworthy moments of dialogue that the sequel was wrought with. Make no mistake about it, while Hatchet III suffers from some serious horror cliches, it’s still a better film than Hatchet II.
If you’re the type of person that likes gruesome, blood-splattering horror, then Hatchet III is worth a watch. Even though the acting is fairly dreadful and the story is ridiculous, the violence alone will certainly please horror fans with every gut rip and dismemberment. And there’s a lot of dismemberment.