Seven years ago, a relative unknown American writer/director, Adam Green brought a brand new slasher film to Frightfest. The film was a huge hit with the fans, ravenous for some fresh meat. The film was Hatchet…and now, Seven years later, Green has returned to debut Hatchet III, the finale of his unique trilogy…and I am pleased to report, it is a fitting finale to the most entertaining slasher series of this generation.

Picking off immediately where Hatchet II left off, Hatchet III starts with a flourish of gore, as it appears the monstrous Victor Crowley has finally been defeated in the bloodiest fashion imaginable by Marybeth, the tormented heroine of the series. However, the Louisiana state police arrests Marybeth after she enters the local police station carrying a rather grotesque trophy, a search party and paramedic clean up team are sent to clean up the carnage in the swamp. However, it appears that the ghost of Victor Crowley can’t rest that easily and soon he is back, more bloodthirsty than ever, tearing through whatever comes his way. Now it is down to the survivors to make it out of the swamp alive, and Marybeth and two unexpected allies to try and put Crowley to rest forever.

Hatchet-3-2013-Movie-Poster

One of the film’s great strengths is the sense of immediacy and continuation from the previous films in the series. So often once one film in a franchise ends, the next film picks up the action at a later date or in a new context. By covering only a couple of days over the length of the series, the sense of chaos and relentless pace is thrilling, and imbues this finale with a sense of gravitas and energy from the first frames all the way to the last. This is white-knuckle ride that knows its audience and is out to give them exactly what they want…and a few surprises along the way.

This time around, Adam Green isn’t in the director’s chair; instead focusing on his writing and producing role, he personally gave camera operator B.J. McDonnell the opportunity to helm the film…and he does a fantastic job at maintaining the tradition of the series, and taking it up a notch on the way. He shows the eye for horror compositions and visual dexterity that Green brought to the previous films, continuing the distinctive Hatchet aesthetic smoothly, while illustrating strengths of his own; in particular, his handling of action in a dynamic and iconic fashion. The sequence where the local police and a specialized SWAT unit hunt for the missing paramedics in the swamp is reminiscent of the 1980’s macho classic, Predator, but with a sinister horror edge that unsettles and destabilizes the audience, providing a break from the excessive violence that fills the film with tension and amplifies the shock when the violence returns.

While the film features some standout performances and cameos from cult horror actors such as Sid Haig, Sean Whalen, Zach Galligan, and above all else, Danielle Harris as the damaged heroine of the series, Marybeth, it is the gross yet gorgeously designed gore that is the star of this macabre show. Chainsaw decimation, eyeball melting defibrillator face blasts, brutal decapitation…Hatchet III never pulls its punches and revels in the sheer amount of shocking gore on screen. Adam Green’s credo to always use in camera, physical effects over CGI and digital trickery has always been an inspired move, and the effects here are some of the best in recent memory…able to disgust and delight in equal measure.

Of course, as a throwback to the age of exploitation and splatter pleasures, Hatchet III does suffer from a lack of complexity and narrative depth. The narrative is threadbare at best, jumping between the carnage in the swamp and the plan to find the last hope in defeating Crowley, which can often feel jarring, and only serves to reveal the inconstancies that are at the heart of this kind of slasher. Ultimately, the film heavily relies on both the grandstanding viscera and the lovingly crafted fan service within the film in order to distract from the weaknesses, and enhance the audience’s experience, the film’s greatest strength.

Hatchet III is a pure splatter fest of the most unashamed kind; it may lack subtlety and sophistication for those seeking a more intellectual thriller…but the Hatchet series has always been a throwback to the classic age of relentless gore, simple thrills and lashings of humour. Hatchet III delivers all of these crucial elements in an extremely satisfying conclusion to the series that will have horror fans cheering and laughing from start to finish.

VERDICT: [rating=3]

About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk