Although the tagline – ‘it’s not a remake, it’s not a sequel and it’s not based on a Japanese one’ – suggests Hatchet is an original horror movie, it’s far from that. It is, as a second tagline more accurately describes this low-budget offering, ‘old school American horror’. Cameo appearances by Robert ‘Freddy Krueger’ Englund and Tony ‘Candyman’ Todd signal we’re in late 80s/early 90s stalk’n’slash territory, something confirmed by the casting of Kane Hodder, aka Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series, as the facially disfigured, preternaturally powerful, Florida swamp-dwelling, axe-wielding, psycho Victor Crowley.
As movie monsters go, Crowley’s evil origin isn’t very imaginative, and his ‘murderous operandi’ isn’t particularly original – teenagers who get lost in his swamp get hacked up with the titular gardening tool. The execution of his crimes, however, is satisfyingly gory in a way we don’t see anymore in the sanitised chillers Hollywood has been churning out for the last decade.
In one scene, Crowley chops the torso of a screaming victim into a V-shape before hacking the unfortunate completely in two. It’s simple-minded, occasionally humorous, gruesome stuff, with none of the misogynistic nastiness, nor the socio-political pretentiousness of the recent crop of torture porn films. For that we have to thank newcomer writer-director Adam Green.