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Hatchet III

2013 | 81 min | Unrated | 2.39:1

Hatchet III


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Theatrical release date

 14 June, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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Hatchet III Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, June 15, 2013

For some reason, the “Hatchet” series continues on. Unleashed in 2007, the horror-comedy “Hatchet” failed to attract much attention during its theatrical run, building its cult appeal on home video. 2010’s “Hatchet II” trumpeted its unrated release in theaters, only to welcome few takers, once again taking to the comfort of rentals to sate its modest fanbase. And now “Hatchet III” is here, wisely electing to share its bruised funny bone on the VOD market, bringing the pain directly to the people. It’s admirable to see franchise mastermind Adam Green continue to make these gruesome features despite limited outside interest, but it’s become increasingly difficult to distinguish one installment from the other, separated only by a few changes in casting and the shifting face of evil himself, Victor Crowley.

Moments after she thought she ended Victor Crowley’s bayou reign of terror, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) makes her way to a nearby police station, only to find herself arrested for the vicious murders the monster committed. Locked up, Marybeth is immediately accosted by journalist Amanda (a marvelously committed Caroline Williams), who claims to be an expert on Crowley’s history, but has never been able to get up close and personal with the monster. Sharing word of a curse that helps the “Bayou Butcher” regenerate every night due to unfinished business surrounding the death of his father, Amanda convinces Marybeth to return to the blood-soaked hunting grounds of Honey Island Swamp, hoping to kill off Crowley for good. Unfortunately, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) and S.W.A.T. leader Hawes (Derek Mears) have already infiltrated the treacherous area, trusting sheer firepower will bring down the beast once and for all.

Having already directed the first two installments, Green passes the baton to BJ McDonnell, electing to take a writing/producing role, keeping his creative position in the franchise safe and sound. I wish I could detect a difference in helming styles between the two men, but McDonnell doesn’t make much of an impression, fenced in by the film’s minuscule budget and limited locations. Instead of a major reinvention, “Hatchet III” is largely the same visual experience as the first two features, tracking Crowley’s killing spree as it works through helpless characters and employs various power tools. McDonnell maintains the gore zone atmosphere, though the make-up craftsmanship is a little lacking this time around, with orangey blood gushing from rubbery wounds -- the movie doesn’t blush around violence, it just isn’t quite as vivid its third time out. Sure, heads are torn from bodies and a chest is ripped open by Crowley’s bare hands, but nothing here tops the other efforts in terms of execution and invention. If you’ve seen one blood-drenched mutilation, you’ve seen them all.

Where “Hatchet III” aims to find inspiration is in the realm of fantasy, finding Crowley undergoing a “Groundhog Day” experience where he’s reborn every night, even when his limbs have been removed from his body. Originally unstoppable, the monster is now unbelievable, though Green has been working on creative fumes from the start, finally reaching a point where it doesn’t matter what happens in a “Hatchet” picture, as long as it feeds the carnage. Talk of curses and Marybeth’s ruinous bloodline are mostly filler for the 77-minute-long movie, which is always more comfortable staging silly kills with game cast members.

A few surprises are in store for committed fans, with cameos to look out for and a redesign of Crowley that nudges him into more of a hulking pro-wrestler look. Actor Parry Shen even returns in his third franchise character, playing a hapless first responder who’s frantic to avoid the ax-clutching ghoul, failing to guide his fellow survivors to safety. “Hatchet III” does play primarily to the faithful, though even the most permissive admirer of the series might find themselves a little frustrated with the repetition of the action, especially when earlier “Hatchet” features covered the exact same ground, minus the superfluous hocus pocus. Of course, the end hints at further adventures, with Green failing to cap off the gush of blood at three installments. Let’s hope the next “Hatchet” manages to escape the bayou and find a more interesting place to rampage. At this point, even a “Crowley in space” sequel would be preferable to yet another round of swamp-slicked mayhem with uninspired slapstick overtones.

Starring: Danielle Harris, Zach Galligan, Kane Hodder, Caroline Williams, Derek Mears, Rileah Vanderbilt
Director: BJ McDonnell

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