Director Adam Green’s concept for a throwback to slashers has always been a good idea. In theory. Sadly Dark Sky Films has taken a one note concept for a serviceable slasher film and turned it in to a three film series that really didn’t need anymore than one movie. I’m still not in the thought process that the “Hatchet” films are the second coming of the slasher sub-genre, because while they have their audiences, slasher films are still pretty much just a sub-genre reserved for indie filmmakers at the moment. “Hatchet” has been a consistently repetitive and tedious series that really offers nothing new. Even with the casting of Danielle Harris as a replacement for the original lead, “Hatchet” still manages to be loud, redundant, and lacking in any genuine scares.
Many expect part three to be the final film in the “Hatchet” series, but Adam Green is a student of the old school horror genre. Everyone knows part three is never the last in a slasher series. And with Dark Sky riding on these films to help them distribute original titles, “Hatchet” will surely be continued somewhere down the line. With or without Green. Director Adam Green no longer directs the series and has turned the duties over to BJ McDonnell. The choice has apparently worked in their favor, because McDonnell is committed to splattering blood on screen just as his predecessor did. The first moments of “Hatchet III” continue moments after the second film, and heroine Marybeth is sprayed with blood as villain Victor Crowley falls on a chainsaw and is mutilated.
Mardi Gras is still going on, and the police in New Orleans are still dealing with drunks and criminals (Adam Green briefly appears as a belligerent partier). Zach Galligan co-stars as the local sheriff who is trying to figure out what happened to Marybeth in the swamps. Still convinced Crowley is just an urban legend fans are anxious to emulate, he and struggling reporter Amanda (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” star Caroline Williams) join forces to figure out of Marybeth is a great storyteller, or if Crowley is on the hunt for more victims. Character Amanda brings Marybeth to retrieve the remains of Crowley’s father hoping to end the curse, while a SWAT team of officers stalk Crowley in his swamps to finish him off. And they fail. Big time.
Cue a massive body count. Meanwhile, BJ McDonnell goes whole hog for this third film, providing Crowley with a huge opportunity to slaughter just about every character. Eventually the story devolves in to nothing but a showcase of how vicious Crowley can murder his victims. Which works against the film because (save for a very cool spear chucking scene where Crowley snares officers from his house) the special effects are about as piss poor as they’ve ever been. In one sequence, Crowley pins down an officer and tears his arms off one by one. In the next frame you can see it’s bad rubber limbs and terrible blood effects that ruin the illusion for anyone investing their time in the paper thin story for the splatter and gore. Kane Hodder as Crowley is able to emote and be more expressive with Crowley’s new make up design, but Crowley himself is just a machine of repetitive killings, and no real depth or dimension.
He’s almost a spoof of the slasher villain. While surely better than “Hatchet II,” there’s really nothing to “Hatchet III,” as the premise is paper thin. All the while subtle nods to the audience fail. Yes I get it, Hodder is battling Derek Mears. It’s Jason vs. Jason. Dark Sky doesn’t seem intent on putting this news making horror series to sleep, and I’d bet Adam Green is planning another installment. With the cryptic final frame of Marybeth looking off wide eyed with a sharp gasp, there’s room to bring back Crowley from the dead and begin the rampage all over again for another lackluster slasher entry.