Looking for revenge after the death of her father and brother, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) joins Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) and a group of guns for hire to track down and kill Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder).
The original Hatchet was my first film review here on The Horror Enthusiast, and was a film that I enjoyed despite seemingly almost everyone else disliking it. I felt it was a fun little film that fell victim to overblown internet hype. When Hatchet II was announced, I was quite excited, when many others scoffed at a return to Crowley’s swamp. Things didn’t turn out quite as I expected. Most who disliked the original, ended up thinking the sequel was a big improvement; while I on the other hand, was pretty disappointed.
The film opens right where the last one left off, which provides a nice shot of momentum to kick things off. There are several throwbacks to the original early on. This section was probably my favorite part of the film. Tamera Feldman, who played Marybeth in the original, had some kind of falling out with the filmmakers and didn’t return. She was replaced by genre vet Danielle Harris, who had actually auditioned for the role in the original. I’ll be honest, I strongly dislike roles being re-cast. No matter what the reason, it almost always detracts from a film, to me. I preferred Tamera’s take on the character, but to Harris’ credit, I felt she did as good of a job as she could, given my pet peeve. Though, I felt her attempt at a southern accent was almost comical at times.
The best idea in the story was making Reverend Zombie a featured character this time. I felt the end result was a mixed bag. Seeing Tony Todd is always enjoyable, but I felt it was unfortunate that a lot of his early scenes either played too long, or simply repeated things that we already knew. It seemed as if they were simply giving time to Tony, rather than really trying to build his character. It’s only much later that we start to see a new layer to him.
The script in general isn’t very well-paced. Too much time goes into setting up a very simple revenge scenario. This is all the more apparent during a repeat viewing. The film’s look is also a bit more stripped down than the original. Hatchet II attempts a somewhat darker tone than the last, so perhaps this was intentional. Though, I suppose the production budget could be lower due to this one having more big genre names on board.
Fright Night and Child's Play director Tom Holland has a sizable role as Mary Beth’s Uncle Bob; while R.A. Mihaloff portrays our principle tough guy, Trent. The rest of the cast is rounded out by the returning Parry Shen, this time playing Justin (the twin brother of his character from the last film), Layton (AJ Bowen), Avery (Alexis Peters), Cleatus (Ed Ackerman), Chad (David Foy), Vernon (Colton Dunn), and John (Rick McCallum). It’s not a bad cast overall I suppose, but again the script disappoints. McCallum and Foy’s characters are pretty faceless, and the whole lot are a bit of a drag at times. I started to miss the more vibrant cast of the original.
Kane Hodder returns of course as Crowley, and again shows that he hasn’t lost a step in portraying a powerful killing machine; delivering another animated performance. The kills are still brutal and plentiful, though I’m still not a fan of the misting blood that Green seemingly likes to include. Victor’s history is also expanded on a bit, with Hodder once again essaying his father, Thomas Crowley. The finale tries to throw in a twist to the story to limited success, but fares better in delivering a resolution that feels final. But, in Horror, we know nothing is ever truly final, do we not?
The highlight of the DVD is the commentary with Adam Green, Tony Todd, and Kane Hodder. Green spends some time discussing the controversial pulling of the film from AMC Theaters after only a few days. Some suggest the low grosses were the reason, but Green seems to think there were shenanigans involved due to it being the first unrated film to play theatrically in over 25 years. Hearing Kane and Tony on the same track was nice and kind of made up for the Blu-ray getting more supplements.
There are a few positives here, but overall, it felt like the sophomore slump got hold of this one. Hatchet II only runs 81 minutes, but feels much longer; almost like they didn’t really have enough material to return to the well. To me, it sort of justifies my feelings on the last one. Both serious and slightly more comedic Horror films can be successful, but the trick is, they have to be well done. Hatchet III is currently being prepped, to be directed by the first two films’ camera operator, BJ McDonnell. Perhaps Green stepping away from the director’s chair is a good thing, and a fresh pair of eyes can help the franchise rebound. If not, I won’t be too upset if the next is the last we see of Victor.
Directed by: Adam Green
Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Tony Todd, R.A. Mihaloff, Tom Holland
Released by: Dark Skye Films
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Green, and stars Kane Hodder and Tony Todd
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Green, Director of Photography Will Barratt, and makeup effects artist Robert Pendergraft
- Hatchet II: Behind the Screams Featurette
- Teaser Trailer
- Radio Spot