It’s time for another round of horror mini-reviews, with this batch focusing on violent sequels:
Hatchet II [2010, dir. Adam Green]
– this review contains spoilers for the end of the first Hatchet –
Hatchet II begins precisely at the moment that the first Hatchet ended, with the lone survivor of a massacre, Marybeth (Danielle Harris, replacing Tamara Feldman from the first film), fighting for her life in a murky Louisiana swamp. She manages to escape the clutches of the behemoth serial killer, Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), and makes it back to New Orleans in one piece (albeit severely shaken up). As it goes in many horror sequels, she finds a reason to go back and seek revenge on Crowley, this time with the help of Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd) and a pack of heavily armed locals.
A shaky narrative, including an unnecessary history lesson about Crowley’s past, pieces this altogether, but it isn’t until the group reaches the swamp that the film hits its apex. Over-the-top gore and creative killings arrive in bunches at this point, including one of the most memorable sex scenes ever seen on film. This is some ridiculous, violent stuff — I’m talking decapitations via hatchets, boat propellors and excessively large chainsaws. It’s absolutely outrageous, but that’s a huge part of the appeal. It helps that the film was made by a horror fan for horror fans. The cast is made up of a who’s who of genre actors — Harris (four Halloween films), Hodder (Jason in multiple Friday the 13ths), Todd (Candyman), Tom Holland (Child’s Play), and R.A. Mihailoff (Texas Chainsaw Massacre III) are just a handful of those you might recognize. Basically everyone in the film is distinguishable for horror buffs. Hatchet II is more of the same, but it’s still good fun for slasher fans. 6/10
Hatchet III [2013, dir. BJ McDonnell]
– this review contains spoilers for the end of Hatchet II –
Once again keeping with tradition in the series, Hatchet III picks up right where its predecessor left off. With Marybeth (Danielle Harris) seemingly putting an end to Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), she heads to the local police station to turn herself in for his murder. A search and recovery team immediately heads to the swamp and are shocked to find the 20-30 decapitated bodies from the first two films. While locked up in jail, Marybeth is confronted by the Sheriff’s ex-wife, Amanda Fowler (Caroline Williams), the local “Crowley expert.” Amanda believes Marybeth’s story and provides her own interpretation of the Crowley legend — naturally, it’s just mumbo-jumbo to give us a reason for our favorite deformed hatchet-wielding monster to return.
The search and recovery team are those in the line of fire this time, and their sheer number of forces gives the series its highest body count yet. Crowley goes to town with more hatchet beheadings, impalements and sheer brutality — there’s even a grisly spine pulling scene for good measure. It’s exactly what you would expect from the series, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s still wildly entertaining with lots of memorable supporting roles (Zach Galligan from Gremlins 1&2, Caroline Williams from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Sid Haig from House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil’s Rejects, among others). Hatchet III confirms the series’s status as my favorite guilty pleasure. 6/10
[REC]³ Genesis [2012, dir. Paco Plaza]
[REC]³ Genesis is a parallel sequel that takes place at the same time as the first two films but with an entirely different batch of characters. It’s also much lighter in tone, even going into the realm of horror-comedy. This may be a deal-breaker for some, but there’s still enough to like for those willing to look past it.
The film begins with a large and exuberant wedding. The two newlyweds, Koldo (Diego Martín) and Clara (Leticia Dolera), are introduced as a joyful, very much in love couple, and we see their ceremony through the series’s familiar found footage angle. However, things go awry when a family member gets incredibly sick and falls off a balcony. When the man’s wife approaches him to help, he bites her on the neck, kickstarting a frenzy of zombie-feeding action. The newlyweds get split up in the madness, and the film follows both of them as they desperately try to find each other.
I knew I was going to like this film as soon as it scrapped the found footage motif shortly after the zombie attacks. From that point on, it’s pure entertainment with just enough humor to break up the increasingly gory deaths. Some of the character antics, particularly those of Koldo, are incredibly dumb, but that just adds to the amusement. Leticia Dolera, however, is fantastic in this film. She just nails this role, and the image of her in a blood-stained wedding dress wielding a chainsaw is something I won’t soon forget. Oh, and there’s also a minor character dressed as a poor man’s Spongebob Squarepants (dubbed Spongejohn to avoid lawsuits) who gets in on the zombie killing. If you can get over the disparity between it and the first two films, [REC]³ is a lot of fun. 7/10