It's always worthwhile to give stuff a second chance. I was pretty underwhelmed by HATCHET when I initially saw it (the blurb on the box from Bloody Disgusting—"amongst the greatest slasher flicks of all time"!—probably explains why). But it holds up very well now that I don't have game-changing expectations of it.
SYNOPSIS: Breakup-dejected Ben (Joel David Moore) guilt-trips his party-boy friend Marcus (Deon Richmond) into going on a cheesy haunted swamp tour in the Louisiana bayous. They're joined by a husband/wife pair and an amateur porn trio, and a very intense local gal. There's a boat mishap and they suddenly find themselves stalked by Victor Crowley, a legendary disfigured and murderous ghost kind of guy.
HATCHET lets you know early on that it's going to be a fun ride. The opening scenes mix the ingredients that will comprise the remaining film—there's some tasteless comedy, some suspense, and plenty of splendidly gory body-part plucking.
Then we head from the wrong part of Louisiana to the party part for Mardi Gras tits action!
But HATCHET presents a holistic view of New Orleans, giving equal airing to the sad aftermath of all that partying. This boy didn't learn anything from Amy Winehouse.
And this girl, while admittedly doing the right thing for her figure, is reaping the rewards of good times sown.
All of these disparate elements are present throughout the film. If HATCHET tilts pretty comedically in the first half, it's balanced by its horror leanings in the second. But it never completely abandons wit or scares or gross-out stuff, and it's pretty admirable how director Adam Green manages and integrates all of this.
The cast absolutely fucking rules. HATCHET has a very strong ensemble cast who rise to the script's potential. It wouldn't matter how skillfully the director blended the comedy and horror and hurled intestines if the actors didn't do an excellent job across the board. Even the supporting cast is solid gold, like Tony Todd as Reverend Zombie, complaining about haunted swamp tour insurance.
Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioravanti bring it as bickering, naive wanna-be tit models. McNab has such incredible comic timing in this that it makes me sad to see her IMDB page isn't lengthier. There's a place in Hollywood for a million Katherine Heigl movies, but nobody will give Mercedes McNab her own star vehicle? Watch her saying, "You're syphillis, Ms. Big Words!" and then hang your head in shame.
Parry Shen as buffoonish tour guide Sean also delivers a impeccable performance and takes us on an accent tour of the world while he's at it. I'm picking faves, but really the whole cast is just fantastic in this. Which is something that almost never happens in horror movies!
Victor Crowley. As a character with tons of depth, he's nothing much, but as a slasher film villain with a cool backstory, he's mighty fine. Plus he looks cool and Kane Hodder plays him with tons of panache, like Crowley really gets a kick out of killing. Lots of gleeful laughs and Van Gogh smiles.
I liked how he went for style points with his kills, like he clearly has access to knives and hatchets, but actually unraveled many feet of extension cord so he could kill someone with a belt sander. The best Vic Crowley scenes in HATCHET are similarly ridiculous, like when this giant monster man somehow quietly sneaks into a crowd of victims in an open area, then pops up next to them. Good times!
WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
Honestly, HATCHET doesn't really make a lot of glaring mistakes. You could fault it for not being bigger in scope, I guess, as it's obviously more about good bloody fun than trying to make some artistic statement. So, yeah, it lags behind DAWN OF THE DEAD or something, but for what it is—a slasher film—it really is an above-average effort.