Picking up exactly where the original film left off, Adam Green’s sequel to his 2006 cult slasher doesn’t waste any time getting down to business, and it also doesn’t require you to have seen the original, catching viewers up with extensive back story (rendered bearable by the ever-spooky voice of Tony Todd) after the bloody beginning. That said, you likely aren’t seeking out Hatchet II if you haven’t seen the original – the body count is absurdly high. It’s the sort of “knowing” horror film that Green seems very well suited to make (he’s a hardcore horror geek himself), extremely aware of its own existence and the seemingly endless string of those that inspired it.
As much as it so obviously fits into the “silly gore worship” niche of the genre, it is a bit contradictory at times. Green, who wrote as well as directed, makes his intentions crystal clear: this is knowingly ridiculous. All of the characters, save maybe one (Danielle Harris of Halloween sequel fame), are pure cannon fodder for the immortal Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder, the former Jason Voorhees). We know this because Green wants us to know this. Tony Todd’s “Reverend Zombie” practically rounds up 10+ rednecks of varying stupidity for the slaughter. That said, Green still dedicates a large chunk of his script, and his film, to his barely-there plot. This lull, which takes up well over the first half of the movie, is done no favors by Green’s attempts at humor. Most of Green’s humor stems from the crude, ridiculously disgusting ways he dreams up for his characters to die, not in the dialogue. Many of the jokes fall flat, and up until the 45-minute mark, Hatchet II grates and drags along, which heavily undermines his aspirations for an effective, meaningless midnight movie.
Once things pick up, however, Hatchet II delivers. Upwards of ten characters meet their demise in the final half hour (yes, that’s roughly 3 minutes in between kills). The sheer gusto Green displays in the death scenes (all of which are gleefully disgusting, many of which simultaneously hilarious) is admirable. They are drawn out and full of gory practical effects work, but thanks to the cheeky tone that Green strictly adheres to the violence never becomes offensive. Jaws are pulled from faces, heads are mulched, grinded, chopped off, and shotgunned. If the kills themselves aren’t inventive, and most are, the execution certainly is. This is crude, classless, tasteless, witless, ridiculous, knowingly stupid schlock – I recommend it.
★★★ out of 5