Creating a sequel to a successful film is never easy, especially when that sequel happens to be within the limiting confines of the slasher genre. After the abrupt hard-cut-to-black ending of the first HATCHET movie, a sequel was to be expected, if not demanded by the studios and the fans alike. Over five years later, after detouring to make SPIRAL and FROZEN, Adam Green has returned with his follow up.
HATCHET II follows on from the very last frame of the first film, although with Danielle Harris replacing Tamara Feldman as the final girl. Harris, who is no stranger to slasher sequels having been in Halloween 4 and 5 and more recently, Rob Zombie’s Halloween I and II remakes, draws upon all her previous experience of screaming and running for this very physical performance.
Tony Todd reprises his role as the gravel-voiced Reverend Zombie to take a more central lead and to fill in more of the legend of Victor Crowley in a beautifully creepy flashback of possession and voodoo curses upon the unborn Victor. Kane Hodder, the go-to-guy for an unstoppable, hulking, killing machine, also returns as Victor Crowley, who lines up more bodily dismemberment with his endless arsenal of tools.
HATCHET II follows the long established rules of the slasher film. There’s the old guy who says they’re all doomed, there’s a couple who have sex and promptly die, people make idiotic decisions such as splitting up and Crowley is able to traverse large distances in the blink of an eye to kill off these idiots. With a much bigger budget, HATCHET II claims to have three times more kills than the first film and impressively with all special effects shot in-camera as opposed to CGI you would expect it to be more entertaining than the first. While technically it is a much superior film, it has lost the fun and humor of the first film, replaced with a darker, more serious tone. It starts off promising but quickly falls into the predictable and eventually becomes as believable as a WWF wrestling match with Hodder and Todd squaring off for the grand finale.
While the film itself is ultimately disappointing, the DVD manages to shine with its extra features. The comprehensive set features two behind the scenes featurettes with great storyboard comparisons, behind the scenes footage, SPX breakdowns, TV Spots, teasers, trailers and best of all, two audio commentaries. One is a great technical commentary with Adam Green, cinematographer Will Barratt and special effects supervisor Robert Pendergraft discussing their decisions, motivations and methods behind making the film, which upon a second viewing, the film makes a lot more sense. The second commentary with Adam Green, Kane Hodder and Tony Todd is more anecdotal and they talk about their inspirations and thought processes behind their performances.
Like the SAW, and the FINAL DESTINATION series HATCHET II relies too much on over-the-top kills rather than story, which has always been a tough line to balance in a slasher film. Those looking for a gore fix will enjoy this, but those looking for a film that’s a cut above the rest may need to keep looking.
Directed by Adam Green
Studio: Arrow Films
Hatchet 2 - Behind the Screams: The Making Of Hatchet 2 (34 mins); Hatchet 2: First Look (8 mins); Meet the FX Team (6 mins); audio commentary by director Adam Green and stars Tony Todd and Kane Hodder; audio commentary by Adam Green, cinematographer Will Barratt and make up effects artist Robert Pendergraft; trailer; teaser trailer; 5.1 Dolby Digital (DVD) and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (Blu-ray).