Thursday, February 3

Some quick thoughts on Hatchet II (Unrated/2010) on Blu-ray

From the back cover: Marybeth (Danielle Harris) recruits a team of hired guns including Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) and returns to the bayou to exact her revenge, but quickly discovers that even with an army of hunters at her side, the murderous fury of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) cannot be contained. Ultimately, it will be up to Marybeth alone to defeat the seemingly indestructible Crowley, but not before learning the truth about a twisted secret he shares with her own family!

At the risk of being punched directly in the face by Johnny of Freddy in Space, who admirably did more than any other blogger to support Adam Green's follow-up to his 2006 Hatchet, I didn't care for this sequel whatsoever. For no reason in particular, I sat out on the first film until its Blu-ray release last September. Looking back to my prior thoughts, after enduring Victor Crowley's return many of those soft complaints are up for the positive side of reassessment. Those who deride Hatchet primarily do so over its wafer-thin-nothing-new-ness; however, on those grounds Hatchet II should be the actual target. A shame considering the rapid theatrical controversy this past October because this one ultimately wasn't worth fighting for--"real horror" or whatever. If only the same brouhaha revolved around the superior initial Crowley bloodbath.

Hatchet II is a standard slasher of the most standard terms that wants it both ways. Green takes pains to wink of fans while laboring to keep newcomers abreast of the pre-established whys/whos/hows. Something almost required to a point, but both aspects are so overdone that we arrive at a retread of another swamp-bound group getting ripped asunder by the time the majority of cute references and background exposition is done. Just look at Steve Miner's Friday the 13th: Part II (1981) for a sequel that barely touches upon past events, utilizing a beginning dream sequence, before setting out to become one of the greatest part twos in slasher history on its own grounds. I get a lot of shit for being obsessed with Rob Zombie's Halloween II, but again, there's a bold sequel that explodes expectations based on both the original series and Zombie's Halloween. All things that appear to be a foreign language to Hatchet's vernacular.      

If Green truly wanted this franchise(?) to rejuvenate American horror, at least that's what the first purported to want to do, letting a slew of details about Hatchet's plot weigh down its sequel makes everything cumbersome at best for its target audience. These concessions also hurt the character of Marybeth who seems to have suddenly lost knowledge of certain details just so they can be explained again here. So not only is Harris, and her shaky southern drawl, new to the role, but the role itself feels entirely unlike Tamara Feldman's Marybeth. And regardless, if Crowley's first stab didn't catch mainstream audiences, a sequel no matter the quality hasn't a chance. Treading water and fan service to such a degree are long passé and only inhibit the film from doing anything interesting or refreshing. Oh and yeah, Tony Todd and R.A. Mihailoff appear, but don't leave any kind of impression. Boy, Candyman is great...  

The practical effects from Robert Pendergraft aren't as good as those from the more seasoned John Carl Buechler. Maybe Green had a point about a rumored MPAA vendetta because there's honestly not that much gore. Everything is tempered with comedy deflating the brutality of Crowley's unconventional uses of power tools not covered in their instruction manuals. Even Crowley's revised appearance is tacky, looking like a bulky pissed off kidney bean that dampens the hulking physicality of Hodder displayed in Crowley Ver.1. What can I say? Hatchet II should rage like the scared vengeance of its wannabe icon; instead this much anticipated sequel does nothing while doing nothing new. And poorly at that once past the hype and good intention. Just like a bunch of others in the subgenre.

Dark Sky Films' Blu-ray features a 1:78.1 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer that looks solid for a film shot in high definition natively (unlike the 35mm Hatchet). So gone is the nice layer of grain replaced with a smooth video-like appearance that actually makes this one look cheaper in contrast. Green's direction borders on rushed with many cramped actor shots so we at least get loads of facial detail. The back cover only states Dolby 5.1, but the disc does indeed include both lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 PCM audio tracks. Although I should have just rented...

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