In 2002, though, American movie-goers were blessed with Eli Roth's Cabin Fever. An unapologetic tribute to the nasty visceral horror of the 80's. T&A and arterial spray, with actors hamming it up remorselessly in a schlocky vile thriller about flesh eating bacteria. It was amazing, in part because no one had done anything like it for close to a decade. After Roth's directorial debut, it was left to European countries to up the ante, most notably France with shockers like Inside, Frontier(s), Martyrs and Calvaire, debatably starting with Gaspar Noe's I Stand Alone, a perverted tale of a madman walking the streets of Paris. But the following years we've been catching up. We now have directors like Larry Fessenden, Ti West, and the most recent addition, Adam Green.
Green's films are fiercely independent and a genre fan's dream come true. If you haven't read the last review posted, Frozen, please check on that after this. I'm clearly in the camp of people excited about Green's presence in the film world. His first foray into writing and directing, Hatchet, like Cabin Fever eight years ago, is nothing but homage to the slasher flicks of yore with a villain more vile than Voorhees and disfigured to a point that would make Freddy Krueger ashamed. Stronger than Michael Myers and worlds more unconscionable than Leatherface was Green's invention of Victor Crowley, played with reckless abandon by the original Jason, Kane Hodder. The film was unrepentantly bloody and nastier than just about anything we've seen from an American filmmaker in decades. It wasn't quite the second coming of the horror holy grail as some fansites proclaimed, but there was a ton of promise for what Green could produce.
Now, four years later, director Green gives us Hatchet 2. Picking up right at the spot that the first Hatchet left off, it proffers its violence early on with reckless aplomb. I'll be honest, by the time the title sequence ended my smile was ear to ear, and I was cackling silently in my seat which was echoed by the others in the theater behind me. Hatchet 2 steals the extremity of the first and multiplies it by 5, hellbent on making the audience sick over the deeds of Victor Crowley, but let's face it, he's clearly the hero. There's more plot exposition, and the writing is worlds better than it was in the first, helped immensely by the delivery of a dastardly Tony Todd and of course Hodder's return as Crowley himself. There's more blood, buckets and buckets splashed over the cast, ripped innards, shanked spines belt sanded cowlicks and torn jowls aplenty. The film, like Frozen, is absolutely relentless but where Green's last film was more of a slow burn and tension builder, his latest is like a speeding train destined to plow through everything in its path.
The story of course deals with the origin of Victor Crowley, and smartly ties in the first films character Marybeth, this time around played by Danielle Harris probably most recognizable from Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes and Bruce Willis' obnoxious daughter in the Last Boyscout. She screams a lot and gets pulverized plenty by Crowley, who's ultimately what you're paying to see here. Green knows it so he makes the script clever enough to flow effortlessly through the duration of the runtime, and succeeding in not overstaying its welcome. It also never insults its audience by mistaking itself for high art. Roger Ebert gave Hatchet 2 one and a half stars but failed to realize that it's a huge goof, all tongue-in-cheek and winks appropriately at the audience, but it takes a fan to recognize the cues.
Along with everything else I've already raved about, the production here is excellent. Green never cops out with CGI and subjects us to its gags old school like with prosthetics and corn syrup. The make-up and sets here are all excellent, stunts obviously inspired by a ton of bygone horrors though done better here. Savini would be proud, seeing the inspiration of his own work in classics like the Prowler, Maniac, the Burning and of course Friday the 13th, the details in the makeup and sets are phenomenal and alone should stand up to repeat viewings. While 2007's Hatchet was a step in the right direction showing all kinds of promise of the type of film that Adam Green was capable of, Hatchet 2 cements his place as an icon of American horror cinema and we should appropriately see his name emblazoned on the cult section shelves of the local mom and pop not too far in the future.
So I'm going to stop gushing before my typing becomes incoherent and my praise retarded whimpers of fanboy adulation. Stated simply Hatchet 2 is not only the logical successor to its original namesake, but dare I say the revitalization needed so desperately by the American slasher film that 2007's incarnation had potential at being, though it failed to achieve due to stutters in the script and poor production. It had promise and raised my eyebrows, making me aware of Adam Green's name, but Hatchet 2 almost immediately following the home video release of Green's other masterpiece, Frozen, is a phenomena to behold. See it with a big group and let loose in the auditorium, because it's the type of film that demands that kind of fan treatment. Unlike other directors working, Green's film keeps its bread and butter in mind, and it's always evident while watching. Tons of gore, shameless nudity, viscerally nasty and unpretentiously mean-spirited fun to be had here. Hopefully it's gifted a wider release before it rushes to the home market, but maybe that's where it's best seen in the end. Gonna have to wait and see.