Thursday, September 20, 2007

Hatchet (2007)

Just a couple of quick words on this, which I saw about a week ago in the wake of glowing online reviews that were calling it "a B-horror masterpiece" (Harry Knowles) or "the best slasher flick in decades" (

Guys - raise your standards.

I enjoyed Hatchet well enough for what it is - a goofy throwback that doesn't take itself seriously, that just wants to give the audience some jokes, some gory murders, and some topless girls. But it's a sign of just how weak American horror is right now that this movie is getting any more than mild praise. This is not a great movie, it's not even a particularly good movie. It's an entertaining mediocre movie for those who don't mind being entertained by the abovementioned rudimentary pleasures (and I count myself in that group) but it's a pure trifle all the way. It's not scary, it's not stylish, and it's only mildly funny. And, there's surprisingly little hatchet action for a movie with this title - something like "Mardi Gras Maniac" would have been a better title, perhaps.

What bugs me most about this movie is that it represents one of the worst trends in modern genre filmmaking, the incessant drive to recapitulate and rehash the horror glory days of the 1970s and early 1980s without adding anything. It's push-button nostalgia, the same reason why Across the Universe exists for the children of the 1960s. There's nothing surprising, challenging, or forward-moving about this movie. Already this year David Fincher, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and Rob Zombie have given in to this trend (although I think Fincher and Tarantino transcended mere nostalgia, and Zombie got at least half free of it) not to mention the dismal 'spoof' Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, aka Scream for people who don't like horror movies. Like I said: mindless regurgitation is fun from time to time, but it shouldn't be praised (although since that's all that Harry Knowles ever wants I guess I shouldn't be surprised).

The Tony Todd cameo, in face paint and a cape, is pretty funny though.


cjKennedy said...

Had it actually been funny, I would've swallowed it. It still wouldn't have been the movie I wanted it to be, but it would've been more tolerable.

Without revealing it here, I will say the ending was kind of novel to me. I haven't seen enough slasher-type movies to know if it's it?

Jeff McMahon said...


Most slashers leave one or two alive at the end, but often there's a final gotcha moment where it's implied that even they've bitten it. So it's not tremendously original to get rid of everybody.