A few years ago the name Victor Crowley meant absolutely nothing to me, even after I watched HATCHET for the first time. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I my initial viewing wasn’t totally fair; so when I watched it again things finally clicked. I had gotten so used to taking every modern horror movie I watched so seriously that when something modern but in a throwback and cheesy fashion came along I was still deadset on taking it seriously and HATCHET is a film that begs you to shut your brain off and soak in the carnage. Adam Green is back with the second coming of Victor Crowley in HATCHET II and in all honesty, it’s just not quite as fun as the first outing.
HATCHET II begins right where the first left off (spoiler alert for the HATCHET virgins), with Victor Crowley looming over Marybeth (played by Danielle Harris this time), just as she’s able to narrowly escape. She returns to town to urge Reverend Zombie to stir up a hunting party to return to the swamp to find and kill Victor Crowley to avenge the deaths of her father, brother and the rest of her boat party that was massacred. Reverend Zombie reluctantly agrees, but with a plan to end the curse of Victor Crowley once and for all (End spoilers for HATCHET virgins).
The spoiler free premise is basically that a group of people enter a cursed swamp of a deformed child trapped in the night he was killed and seeks revenge on anyone that trespasses in his territory. That just so happens to be the premise of the first film as well, but if you’ve never seen the first then all the other juicy details about who the group is and why they are going spoil the first and their motives for returning in HATCHET II will mean nothing to you. In many ways in the plot to HATCHET movies mean very little; the same goes for acting, so my advice is to just sit back and watch the fake blood spray the trees.
Speaking of the acting, in the first HATCHET I was left dumbfounded after the first viewing that it could be so unbelievably bad. Each subsequent viewing it bothered me less and my puzzled frown turned into a gleeful smile as I was happy to just bask in the glory of the bloodshed. The acting in HATCHET II is equally as bad if not worse than in the first, the only difference being that I actually kind of liked the characters in the first and I only liked a select few of the characters in the sequel. The casting of Danielle Harris really puzzles me as she not an improvement over Tamara Feldman, who played Marybeth in the first film. Tony Todd is a lot more prominent in the sequel which is a double edged sword; because for fans it’s nice to see him but I wish it could be under better circumstances. My favorite character was played by AJ Bowen even though he barely in the film, but his part also brought me the biggest laugh.
It’s pointless to judge a film like HATCHET II on the merits of acting, because the point of the film isn’t to be an Oscar contender. Adam Green is capable of making serious, tense and well acted thrillers like FROZEN and SPIRAL and his HATCHET movies are full of over-the-top cheesy acting and violence. The first film also had a lot of great comedy to go along with it and the comedy is still intact here.
What I liked about the first film was the opposing nature of Victor Crowley. Even with all the cheesy jokes and bad acting Crowley was a pretty intimidating presence and he still is here in the sequel. I couldn’t help but feel like there was something missing this time around that made the overall experience just slightly less enjoyable this time around. After the first ten minutes or so the film does start to drag due to Danielle Harris’ overacting and lack of action.
The violence is what every fan of HATCHET is waiting for when they hit play and have no fear there is plenty to be had once the characters get back into the swamp. There is an abundance of blood, intestines and severed limbs flying around on screen with the damage being inflicted by a variety of weapons that include the biggest chainsaw you have ever seen. Disappointingly enough there’s even one kill that happens off screen, which is a small price to pay with the rest of the carnage happening around you.
HATCHET II was made for the fans of the first HATCHET, with more blood, more guts and more cheese. The film will be too over-the-top and goofy for most to handle and for others that’s precisely what the doctor ordered. I can’t shake the feeling that this sequel is a step backward from the first; it took multiple viewings for the first to jive with me and that might be exactly what Adam Green’s Victor Crowley sequel needs as well. If you’re a fan of throwback horror movies with comedic sensibilities then HATCHET II will fill that gap nicely.