Written and directed by Adam Green
Starring Danielle Harris, Tony Todd, Kane Hodder, Tom Holland, Parry Shen, and AJ Bowen
About: Director Adam Green busted onto the horror scene in style with 2006's Hatchet, a film that was hyped beyond belief. Whether the film lived up to the hype is up to each individual viewer, but regardless, Green has proven himself fairly versatile with his film career up to this point: we've got an over-the-top horror/comedy (self-parody?), a character study about a lonely outcast a la May, a contained thriller about skiing, and now Hatchet II, returning him to what got everyone all hyped up in the first place.
Awesome Hatchet II poster by artist Alex Pardee.
Green blogged about the poster here.
Hatchet II picks up directly after the first film left off, with Marybeth (this time played by Danielle Harris. If you don't know who that is, kill yourself. I don't have to feel bad about saying that, because every horror fan knows who that is.) being attacked by Victor Crowley. Marybeth escapes after being rescued by some redneck guy. Marybeth leaves said redneck guy and goes to see Reverend Zombie. Together, they gather a team of people to be killed off-- I mean, to help them hunt Victor Crowley in the swamp. But can this ragtag group of Lousiana rednecks kill Crowley for good, or will almost all of them die trying? Or both? Well, I think you have some idea.
If you've seen the first Hatchet, I'm certain you have some idea of whether or not this is your cup of tea. Normally I'd say "if you hated the first film, stop reading." But this film isn't exactly the same as the original, so depending on why you hated the first one, this could still be up your alley - at least partially. The reason for this is that Hatchet II tones down the juvenile comedy a couple notches and becomes more of a routine "throwback slasher" (also known as a cliche-fest with terrific kills) than a comedy. It still sneaks in a handful of silly gags and mildly amusing but never laugh-out-loud funny banter, but those who weren't fond of the comedy need not avoid this like the plague.
Now obviously, one of the more enticing aspects for hardcore horror fans (aside from the kills - more on those later) is the stunt casting that Green has packed the film with. While the first film had cameos (Robert Englund, anybody?), this one takes it eight steps further. Genre veterans Danielle Harris (Halloween 4 & 5, Zombie's Halloween, Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet, several awful films on a budget of $5 and a condom) takes over the role of Marybeth, while Tony Todd (Candyman, Final Destination), Tom Holland (director of Fright Night and Child's Play), Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees, bitches) --
Sorry, had to take a breath. Where was I? Uh, AJ Bowen (The Signal, House of the Devil), and RA Mihailoff (Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3) round out the cast. The plus side to this is that the familiar faces add to the wink-wink, nudge-nudge nature of the film. The bad news is that I ended up being disappointed in Danielle Harris's performance for the first time in my young life. She actually has a couple cringeworthy moments here, which could be due to some pretty weak dialogue, or it could be Harris's acting. I dunno, although the former is perfectly possible. At any rate, for the most part this collection of performers of perfectly competent, and Harris is a surprising weak spot.
I did think that the screenplay was much stronger than that of the first film. While I hardly think the core audience of this film are going to be looking for brilliance in this area, this entry is much better written. The laughs aren't as blatant as the first, but are often funnier. The story does just what you'd expect it to - function as moderately entertaining filler between gruesome murders - and actually carries some emotional weight when it comes to the flashback sequences. I know, I'm as surprised as you are. While Green has proven himself to be a decent dramatic writer on a couple occasions - Spiral, Frozen - I hardly expected even a trace of that to be on display here. Heh.
"But what about the murders," you say. "Tell me about the murders or I'm gonna stop reading your shitty blog." Well, fine. I can't afford to lose my one reader, so I guess I have to oblige. The kills are the main selling point of the film, and let me tell you:
They're pretty awesome.
While the murders aren't as creative as a couple from the first film (the 'jaw rip' and 'head twist' come to mind), what the kills lack of batshit-insanity they make up for in sheer volume. There was a rumor that the film contained seventeen onscreen deaths. That's '17,' for those of you who can't read. I suspect anyone who would voluntarily visit this blog may have that very problem, but that's not my business. While I can't say whether that constitutes the most kills of any slasher ever - as some have claimed - I personally doubt it. Still, that's an impressive number. To spoil any of the murders would be doing the film an injustice, but gore hounds should be fairly pleased, as Green brings the same flair for gore that he exhibited in the first film.
Hatchet II is a must-see for fans of the first film and a definite 'maybe' for those who didn't like it. I wasn't jumping up and down at the end of the film, but the level of sheer fun that I had during its running time is more than acceptable. I'm certain that this one will split fans - just as the first one did - but as far as I'm concerned, this actually one-upped the mildly-amusing original by toning down the stupid and toning up the bodycount.
Overall: 3/5 blood-soaked belt sanders
Recommendation: Check it out, but I promise you nothing