Retro Review: HATCHET III (2013){0}

The problem with paying homage to the slasher films of the 1980s is that, well, there’s not all that much to homage. Put down your pitchforks and hear me out. I’m a child of the 1980s and I’ve made no secret about my affections for scrappy, low-budget slasher-era throwbacks. I’m glad that it’s FEARnet’s friend Adam Green as the head honcho on a trilogy of these enjoyably goofball splatter-fests, because, say what you will about the Hatchet movies… Green and his colleagues love this stuff. You can’t say the same for all the franchises out there.

Anyway, back to Hatchet III….

Sometimes (even most times) a horror fan wants something serious and legitimately scary… but occasionally we just want short shocks, simplistic characters, and wonderfully gory set-pieces. By those standards, the Hatchet flicks deliver, and while the third chapter may be the relatively sloppiest and choppiest — there’s still some decent fun to be found here.

Like most good slasher sequels, Hatchet III picks up right where its predecessor left off… which means that fans can expect to see a lot more of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) slicing up bodies while the lovely Mary Beth (Danielle Harris) does all she can to discover how to end the immortal monster’s reign of carnage. (She’s not all that successful.) Meanwhile we have an unprepared sheriff (Zach Galligan) and a gung-ho soldier (Derek Mears) searching the New Orleans swamplands for a clue as to who has killed, like, 40 people. (Hint! It’s the undead Victor Crowley!)

But like most slasher sequels that are made with more enthusiasm than actual funding, Hatchet III suffers from some noticeable problems. For example, the “b-story” about Mary Beth and her two new pals (a cop and a reporter) feels like shoe-leather exposition at best and a narrative roadblock at worst. Hatchet III is at its best when its doling out the jolts and the blood, and the somewhat frequent diversions into “plot territory” grind the film to a crawl. On the plus side, this chapter is a bit less jokey and a dash more action-heavy than Hatchet II, plus it has a pretty solid musical score, and that never hurts. Director BJ McDonnell brings a mild “Aliens” vibe to the broad but appealing proceedings, and even when a flick has no budget to speak of, “the Aliens sequel vibe” is still sort of fun. (Also the hulking Derek Mears has become a legitimately fun actor to watch! Even without tons of monster make-up on his face.)

Harris and Hodder are the veterans of this trilogy, but it’s newcomers like Galligan and Mears, both of whom should be very familiar to horror fans, who bring a welcome little spark to the new entry. And even despite a few slow spots, Hatchet III continues the franchise tradition of delivering an actual horror movie that’s kinda funny, but not at the expense of the bloody mayhem. I think it’s safe to say that the Hatchet series has run its course, at least for the time being, but at least chapter three treats the fans well and doesn’t skimp on the nasty bits.