Directed by Adam Green
Produced by Scott Altomare, Sarah Elbert, Cory Neal
Starring: Joel Moore. Deon Richmond, Tamara Feldman
Production Companies: ArieScope Pictures, High Seas Entertainment, Radioaktive Film
DVD Release: December 18, 2007 by Anchor Bay Entertainment
When one of the taglines to your movie is "Old School American Horror" you are actually giving yourself a title that is potentially digging your own grave. You are immediately choosing your target audience of those who know Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, and Halloween like a 15 year old girl knows Mean Girls or The Notebook. If I start thinking about what "Old School American Horror" means to me, of course I drift back to the classic slashers like the ones stated above, but I also start thinking of a time when I was young and so naive that a simple concept could be scarier than Rosie O'Donnell on a cocaine bender. Movies like Dr. Giggles would make me run to my mom's room in terror, and Nightmare on Elm Street would make me wake up in a cold sweat still seeing Freddy over my bed. A movie didn't need to be disturbing or need an emotionally disturbing element more than a duder chasing you with a machete. That is what Hatchet is. It is simple, classic, gory, horror.
The premise is simple. A group of friends go to Mardi Gras, trying to get a friend, Ben (Joel Moore), to forget his ex girlfriend. He isn't feeling Mardi Gras and drags one of his friends, Marcus (Deon Richmond), to a night swamp tour. The tour is brought to crashing halt when the boat runs into a rock. Once they come to the conclusion they are stranded and there are no other tours coming through the swamp, an introverted girl, Marybeth (Tamara Feldman), explains that the swamp is closed because people have been disappearing around the swamp and these people include her father and brother. She tells the story of a deformed boy who lived in the woods with his father and the story of his demise in a horrible accident,resulting in his haunting and tormenting of the swamp and all those who enter. Then the slaughter begins.
The amazing part about a movie like this is that you don't need anything more than that to make an entertaining movie. It's a simple concept but it gets the job done when it's in the right hands. Hatchet delivers on all basic horror requirements. It is gory, has some decent jumps and scares, it's gory, entertaining cast who works well together, plenty of humor, it's gory, it doesn't take itself to seriously, and did I mention it's gory. The gore surprisingly enough can't be overstated. Usually I come out of these movies disappointed with the amount of violence, but with a few exceptions like Hatchet, Feast, and Audition I can actually have my appetite for blood, gore, and violence quenched.
Joel Moore plays the pathetic, socially awkward, and recently heartbroken guy very well. Keep in mind I am giving natural horror movie acting ability leeway. You can't expect an oscar winning performance from a movie where more than half it's budget is placed in the make-up department. Tamara Feldman is one hell of a badass hottie, and Deon Richmond brings the comedic relief. No one takes their role to serious, so no one overacts. Surprisingly enough everything seems extremely natural and well tuned. I think Adam Green shows promise as a horror director if he realizes that people before him have set the bedrock for this style of film. If you stray to far away from the way things have been done, you either have to have the skill to be a trailblazer or you need an ingenious idea to carry your film. He had a simple idea, and is a new director so he took a page from those who came before him.
People say that horror movies are lame anymore and they will blame people for being uncreative or not having vision to produce something that requires such an emotional response as fear. It doesn't require a brilliant idea, or being tremendously creative, you just have to know your subject matter and the art of those that came before you. If you have a simple story and concept such as that of Hatchet, you can't really stray from that which has already been done, unless you can genuinely do it better, which let's face it, we haven't really seen anyone who can. You either have a brilliant story and concept, or you have the skill to surpass those before you.
When it gets down to it and we come to my conclusion here, Hatchet was a blast. I have been looking for something that can give me a feeling of the movies I have come to love, in a new packaging. I wouldn't say Hatchet is a scary movie by any means, it just reminds you of those scary times you had watching the horror movies of your youth. No wonder Tony Todd (Candyman) and Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) signed on for their cameo roles. They were a part of everything this movie was all about. "Classic American Horror".
Watch it bitch!