Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #132
Number of Views: One
Release Date: June 14, 2013 (US)
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 81 minutes
Director: BJ McDonnell
Producers: Sarah Elbert, Adam Green
Screenplay: Adam Green
Make-up Effects: Robert Pendergraft, Roxanne Pike, Caitlyn Brisbin, Nic Henley, Shaun Pendergraft
Special Effects: David Nash
Visual Effects: Jason Richard Miller, Joshua Petrino
Score: Scott Glasgow
Cinematography: Will Barratt
Editing: Ed Marx
Studio: Dark Sky Films, ArieScope Pictures
Distributor: Dark Sky Films
Stars: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan, Caroline Williams, Parry Shen, Robert Diago DoQui, Rileah Vanderbilt, Derek Mears, Cody Blue Snider, Sean Whalen, Jason Trost, Diane Ayala Goldner, Guy Fernandez, Sarah Elbert and Sid Haig as Abbott MacMullan
Cameos: Adam Green, Joel David Moore (uncredited)
Suggested Audio Candy:
Marilyn Manson This Is The New Shit
When making an affectionate homage to a horror film you can generally get away with bloody murder. Should your work be found wanting in any one department you’re instantly forgiven as it’s just paying reverence. It’s a free pass for mediocrity and, in the case of BJ McDonnell’s Hatchet III an uninspired script and a whole host of ethnic stereotypes. That’s not to say that his effort is an outright failure, on the contary, it’s business as usual for the hulking Victor Crowley. But, should you be searching for innovation, then you will be finding precious little here.
The Hatchet series was originally helmed by Adam Green (Spiral, Frozen, Holliston), a filmmaker with proven credentials who both wrote and directed the first two films, and dotingly paid tribute to an epoch long since passed but never forgotten: the eighties. Both previous entries did a relatively upright job of reliving the slasher flicks of yesteryear, while Green remained disinterested in pushing the envelope any farther in terms of modernization. The wheel had already been invented and his was not to tamper with a winning formula that gave the eighties slasher its springboard to short-lived worldwide theatrical success. He just knew how to harness any existing horsepower and give aficionados what they had craved for over two decades.
At no stage has the franchise taken itself even vaguely seriously, the Hatchet movies epitomize the saturday night beer with buddies movie and their selling point has invariably been the slaphappy grue and harebrained dispatches, of which they supply in bountiful measure. Barely have we been presented with personage of any detectable warmth or decorum, more a cluster of vigilante rednecks and odious ignoramuses, all justified in the dismantling they were invariably awarded by the uncouth Crowley.
This time out his wretched quarry is, by and large, anonymous outside of our returning heroine. Lacking in anything resembling airs and graces; these Southern-fried deadbeats meander around Honey Island Swamp with the same conviction of extras from Prisoner Cell Block H, with nary a line to chew on and barely discernible amongst the swollen mob, only there to offer some fresh meat for Crowley to mince.
Speaking of which, grue is an element the series has always been endowed with in profusion. Third time round it doesn’t really pack the punch it did formerly, more a kindly slap to the chops followed by a request for forgiveness. Don’t be fooled into deeming that to mean it isn’t present, there’s a plethora of spleen-ripping, head-pulping and appendage subtraction to keep a swamp boar in meals for a calendar month. But we’ve come to expect a bloodbath and Crowley’s destruction here is par for the course.
As I just stated, we’ve been privy to its exaggerated carnage twice before now and, once you have watched enough of Crowley’s demented decimation play out, you become somewhat desensitized to it all. It may not have been aided by the fact that Keeper spent fifteen minutes prior taking in Adrián Cardona and David Muñoz’ exorbitant short film Fist of Jesus and, after watching limbs being tossed like salad leaves for almost the entirity of its slender runtime, I couldn’t help feeling a little indifferent about being presented more of the same with no bells and/or whistles attached.
I’ve already touched on the contemptible caricatures and my next observation is that Hatchet III has been rather unsympathetically handled by certain sharpshooters for its predated prejudicial mind-set. That may be but, regardless of whether or not it chooses to innovate, we must allow it to play the homage card as Green has made it clear from the offset that he is disinterested in furnishing the screen with potential BFFs. We’re safely in Friday the 13th territory here; the audience is present only to offer Crowley encouragement and to tick off each of the bloated cast of fringe members as they meet their grisly end.
Essentially we are presented with a trough of silage already labelled “fucked” with little need for paintball emissions to broadcast their status. The cast largely comprises of a range of old hands and has beens. Sean Whalen may be most memorable for scuttling around in the partitions during Wes Craven’s The People Under the Stairs but since then he has become a low-rent Buscemi of sorts. Here, as in Robert Hall’s Laid to Rest, he falls foul of a particularly impolite demise, this time via defibrillator ear muffs. Zach Galligan gets presumably weary of awaiting Gremlins 3 and is dusted off, then sanded down accordingly. Galligan’s performance is enthusaistic and he brings no shame to the game whatsoever. However, it also brings to mind fellow eighties C Thomas Howell as you can’t shake that nagging feeling that his moment has long since passed.
His deputy Winslow (Robert Diago DoQui) fares slightly more favorably but is forced to deliver some true homage lines sapping much of his luster. Meanwhile, Derek Mears’ Hawes leads the search and annihilate team from the front, but alas gets sent to join Sgt Apone in the dug-out, after little more than a warm up. This is a howling shame as his is a rare character capable of sparking any real curiosity. Green himself pops up for his mandatory cameo, while Hatchet regular Parry Shen makes it third time lucky as Andrew after already succumbing as Shawn first time out and Justin for the sequel. After two decisive maulings, Shen has finally worked out what not to do.
Our beloved Marybeth also makes a more than welcome homecoming. Sultry sex-pot Danielle Harris barely needs to fart and she’s repaid her asking fee with interest. As is unerringly the case, she does the best she possibly can with the material provided her, and McDonnell’s picture profits endlessly from Marybeth showing off that purty face and tight Southern booty. However, I still await that one role which will cement her as the scream queen she evidently is.
Harris’ Annie Brackett was one of the only illuminations in Rob Zombie’s misfiring Halloween II, chowing down on the supple sirloins being thrown her by Brad Dourif and providing a scant reason to care, though since my exposure to Diane Foster, who eats up the screen like a pig at a pie-eating contest, there has been a vigorous shake-up. Her tenacity in taking on Audrey Miller in Matt Farnsworth’s superlative The Orphan Killer and throwing her spine into it means questions must be asked about the service Harris is receiving. As Marybeth she is provided precious little foil to play off of.
It may appear as though I already have the branding iron sizzling and in truth it would be painless for me to make an example of it. I will not be doing that and my rationale is as simple as a wagon-load of rednecks. I pledged at all times to judge each film on its own individual merits and, to be fair, first-time director (but experienced camera operator) McDonnell sets his bar diffidently to begin with. However, I also made an oath of honesty and a trilogy of Hatchets further down the road it continues to be haphazard and spendthrift. It’s that squandered potential which sticks in the throat the most.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 5/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: It stands to reason that there is a veritable glut of gushing grue on offer; any less simply wouldn’t be Hatchet. There isn’t significant invention with many of the dispatches, but it certainly isn’t stingy with the spraying claret. Meanwhile, all that time spent in the bayou has left Marybeth a very dirty girl indeed. It wouldn’t be upstanding not to offer her the customary soapdown now would it? Should Hatchet IV ever see the light of day, then I’m guessing that Shen’s request will be reincarnation as a loafer.
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)