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The Third Chapter Of The Victor Crowley Saga Gives You What You Expect, But Lacks Much In The Way Of Surprise
on August 9, 2013
If you've enjoyed the previous editions of the modern horror franchise "Hatchet," let's just say that the third chapter serves up exactly what you might expect. That is meant both as a compliment and as a criticism. Unlike some, I can't proclaim that I thought the series was ever a brilliant new addition to the horror canon, but I did think it offered an amusing throw-back to old school filmmaking. That's what "Hatchet" was (and is) for me: fun. A moderately scaled movie that mixes humor with gore, you look for the next grisly way that the villain will dispatch his victims. It's all about the creativity of the confrontation and the subsequent slaughter. Everything is so over-the-top in effects and execution, it is hard not to laugh even when the series is at its most brutal. "Hatchet III" maintains the body count and the bloodshed of its predecessors, but the series is definitely showing signs of wear in the creativity department. Although there are a few clever murders, most are relatively mundane. When you've already seen Victor Crowley dispatch dozens of people over the course of two films, the makers here didn't know how to up the ante. Instead of feeling fresh and new, the movie didn't really offer any surprises to elevate the material. You simply don't get that "did they just do that?" feeling anymore, and I missed those moments.
Picking up mere seconds after the conclusion of "Hatchet II," we are again presented with the plucky heroine played by Danielle Harris. Convinced that she has finally ended the reign of Victor Crowley, she turns to the local New Orleans cops to share her story. Mistrustful of the bloodied woman, they incarcerate her until the situation in the swamp can be sorted out. The carnage (from the last movie) is horrifying to the crime scene investigators on the site, but things get even worse when they start to go missing. The sheriff (Zach Galligan of Gremlins) assembles a team to see what's going on after they get a distress call, but Harris is left in a cell to stew on what might be happening. Is it possible that Crowley is still alive. Intrepid reporter Caroline Williams (who also happens to be the Sheriff's ex-wife) shows up at the jail house to add her two cents to the Crowley legend telling Harris that he is still alive and can only be really killed by breaking an ancient curse. Needless to say, everyone heads back off to the swamp to end this once and for all. Who will survive? And can the Crowley curse ever be broken?
When you have a killer that simply can't be stopped, it can become somewhat problematic to your storytelling. If Crowley won't ever die, if there's not that possibility, than that lessens the film's tension. No matter what happens, he will simply continue on endlessly. From a plotting standpoint, this movie offers one more solution to the Crowley problem but I never trusted that it would work. And I still don't. That's okay, but it goes back to the idea that it becomes hard to keep everything feeling fresh. An indestructible killer and an endless body count, the movie never really has a chance to grow beyond these basic devices. On the plus side, though, Harris is still a compelling and likable lead. But my favorite part of "Hatchet III" is Williams. This veteran actress is super as the reporter haunted by the Crowley legacy. Her performance is big and grandiose and absolutely mesmerizing. Special points, also, for the funny cameo by Sid Haig as Abbott McMullen. In a movie where everything seemed far too familiar and expected, Williams and Haig stand out in originality. KGHarris, 8/13.