Hatchet III BJ McDonnell

Hatchet III BJ McDonnell
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In its ostensibly banal, imitative form, the third installment of Adam Green's Hatchet franchise—this time helmed by professional camera operator, BJ McDonnell—does focus on key signifiers tantamount to the franchise. Cartoonish gore, campy one-liners and a pseudo-ironic, now redundant, preoccupation with contrarian morality in kill selections (women and visible minorities fare better than white men) denote the progression and focus of this deliberate throwback to the horror sequels of more blithely capitalist times.

Opening where the second left off, Marybeth (Danielle Harris), covered in blood, fights a mutilated Victor Crawley (Kane Hodder)—a voodoo-infected Argonaut of a deformed misfit boogeyman—shoving her hand through his mangled face and recoiling in horror when a stray, surprisingly effective, chainsaw rips him to shreds. She promptly grabs part of his head, marches off to the police and allows them to spray her off with a hose in the buff in front of an array of interchangeable police officers, including the ersatz leader, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan).

Oddly, it is another forty-minutes before any real blood is shed. Fowler and a recovery team march off to Honey Island Swamp to recover the litany of shredded bodies from the first two, which results in abundance of gags about testicles hanging from trees and self-conscious nods to plot and character-related absurdities while Marybeth spews profanities at a blogger (Caroline Williams) certain that reuniting Victor with his dead pa will break the curse.

Because the jokes are strained and the exposition mealy, the gang of subpar actors are left overacting amidst the constant array of spatially incompetent close-ups and ugly compositions. Arguably, these visual inconsistencies and temporal lack of awareness is reminiscent of the horror films Hatchet III is trying to emulate, but since Green was able to keep things looking professional in the first two, the greater likelihood is that McDonnell is better at shooting a film than he is directing it.

This is particularly problematic once Crowley inexplicably regenerates his body and heads back to the swamp to off the entire New Orleans police department. Little tension or creativity leads into these kills, making the array of decapitations, dismemberments and splayed innards blend together like a make-up effects reel, serving little narrative or sensationalist purpose beyond existing out of genre necessity.

Worse is that the setup mostly finds a gang of police officers standing in a row shooting guns endlessly with death occurring only when a stray idiot wanders off for one inane reason or another. There's simply no real creativity and no real humour to it all—beyond rote referencing—leaving the gleeful carnage feeling particularly puerile and nihilistic.

Still, the basic rhythms and concepts within are reminiscent of the original films, which is at least respectable within the limited context of a minor horror franchise. (Raven Banner)