HATCHET III Movie Review
The good news is that Hatchet III is better than Hatchet II.
Not a difficult goal to achieve, given just how downright awful Adam Green’s sequel to his mildly enjoyable slasher throwback Hatchet actually is. The third film, written by Green and directed by Hatchet II camera operator BJ McDonnell, Hatchet III concludes the trilogy with a half-baked story that sees Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) turned into an immortal beast thanks to a Voodoo curse. After turning herself into the police, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) sits alone in a jail cell while Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) leads a search and recovery team in the swamp for the myriad dead bodies left in Crowley’s wake. Meanwhile, Marybeth is visited by Fowler’s ex-wife and local Crowley expert Amanda (Caroline Williams), who claims she knows how the “Bayou Butcher” can be destroyed once and for all.
While Hatchet III is certainly an improvement upon its predecessor, it can’t seem to shake the multitude of issues that plague it. The story progresses almost entirely through expository dialogue, conveniently spouted in a stilted and forced manner that adds a few more laughs to the incredibly self-referential first act of the film. Characters from the first two installments are referenced by the same actors playing entirely different characters while the film’s ludicrous story is poked fun at by a self-aware Green, reprising his role as a drunk partygoer from the first two films. It’s a bit of self-aware cleverness in a film that’s almost entirely lacking in originality, and while it doesn’t save the film, it certainly keeps its head above water in its more ridiculous moments.
When Crowley finally appears, the rest of the film is devoted primarily to his killing spree, dispatching Fowler’s team and a group of soldiers in admittedly inventive ways. Like the second film, it’s delightfully over-the-top in its gleeful and unrestrained love of violence, yet this time around the goofball humor that helped ruin the second is eschewed in favor of a straight-forward Grand Guignol that features some inventive kills and copious amounts of blood. This is, after all, what people want, right?
One of the things the first Hatchet film had going for it were the performances, which were admirable in the face of a fairly generic plot; Hatchet III doesn’t have that benefit. “Acting” is turned up to 11, with Galligan spouting lazy dialogue through gritted teeth and Harris doing little more than screaming and uttering obscenities at police officers as she’s roped into a final confrontation with Crowley. Ancillary characters that are basically fodder for the deformed giant provide some laughs born mostly out of awkwardness, but not even their gruesome deaths can overshadow their half-assed delivery of poorly constructed dialogue.
As was said above, Hatchet III is better than its immediate predecessor, but not by much. The series as a whole is an uninspired rip-off of 80s slashers (namely Friday the 13th) that, although not good by any definition of the word, managed to do something new with each outing. Green and newcomer BJ McDonnell regress, adding almost nothing new to a storyline that’s seemingly little more than a vehicle designed to push the limits of what you can get away with in terms of blood and gore. Mild enjoyment from a scene or two aside, Hatchet III is a proverbial dead horse, beaten senseless with mediocrity and laziness.