Monday, October 7, 2013

HATCHET III (2013)

SYNOPSIS: Again picking up right where we left off, Marybeth leaves the facially-mushed and apparently-dead Victor Crowley only to find out he's only apparently dead when he lifts her in a chokeslam.  She manages to escape, thanks to a large chainsaw, but is arrested when she arrives at the police station carrying a big chunk of Victor Crowley's face.  The sheriff's estranged ex (Caroline Williams) shows up to reveal that nothing can kill Victor Crowley except returning his dad's remains to him.  Police and medics go out to die while Marybeth gets carted around in a cop car, getting ready for the final showdown.

WHAT WORKED:
BJ McDonnell takes over directorial duties from Adam Green here and curries our favor with his impressive framing and exploitation of light and shadow.  HATCHET III gets improbably pretty at times, whether we're watching the elfin beauty of Danielle Harris...


...or the elephantine beauty of Kane Hodder.


There's always cause for concern when we get a new guy at the helm of an established series, but McDonnell proves he's got the goods when it comes to the visual side of things.

Danielle Harris has a real handle on Marybeth this go-round and her performance is way more assertive and improved compared to HATCHET II.  Marybeth's the best character here and her snarling defiance against everybody is a credit to poor white trash of the entire Southland.  In a way, it's a big return to the Marybeth of the first HATCHET.


It's kind of a shame that Marybeth is kept out of the main flow of the action for a lot of the film.  She's sitting in cars and prison cells pretty often, but at least the women-in-prison parts of HATCHET III include a shower scene.  Good job.


The new Victor Crowley!  Redesigned for 2013, the makeup seems less rubbery and lets Hodder grimace and howl a lot more believably.


Crowley's trademark over-the-top kills are a highlight, as usual.  People say farewell to arms...


...and heads receive rough handling.



The script focuses a bit more on suspense and action this time, to the exclusion of huge amounts of goofy stuff, and that is probably not a mistake.  After the languid Part Two, it's pretty peachy to see HATCHET getting back to a quick pace and serious gore.  Not to say that there aren't moments of fun here.  III has the best Adam Green self-deprecating cameo ever and some other scenes hit the stratosphere of hilar.  But this HATCHET devotes more time to mutilation than conversation.


WHAT DIDN'T WORK:
I really didn't care for Derek Mears as an alpha-male SWAT team leader.  Not that Mears gives a terrible performance, I'm just not even a little into macho SWAT stuff in my horror films.  It's here because it gives fans a chance to fangasm over the two Jasons fighting, but the actual fight is kinda underwhelming and I'd rather see Danielle Harris occupy the exclusive badass role for this film, thank you very much.


Let me just blast another horror icon now.  Sid Haig is in this, but his scenes are maybe the film's worst mistake.  HATCHET III dumps all of its non-working comedy bits into Haig's interactions with a black deputy and it's just tedious and painful.  Comedy racism can work if it's structured to be shocking (see CABIN FEVER), but this just seems pretty lazy, sorry.


The other actors?  Fine-to-okay.  Again, the script doesn't give us any characters that can match the magic of our first HATCHET so the actors don't really have a chance to blow anyone away, but at least the action and pacing are much tighter in this outing.  I would've had Caroline Williams's Crowley-obsessed journalist go even more obsessed and crazier, but eh.  I hope they really are putting HATCHET out to pasture, since the basic story isn't fascinating enough to stretch over a lengthy series.  A high 5 or low 6, so let's be kind to people who plainly meant well and tried hard.

RATING: 6


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