This is not Hatchet IV, okay? Just… uh, actually — yeah, yeah it is.
Final girl Andrew (Parry Shen with top billing, bitches!) was the only survivor found after the three-night massacre at Honey Island Swamp at the hands of local ghost legend Victor Crowley — an entity that hasn’t been seen for ten years. Cashing in on his fame after being accused and exonerated of being the actual swamp killer, Andrew releases a tell-all memoir to a lukewarm reception. Meanwhile, the site of the murders has been turned into a local attraction of t-shirt sellers and self-guided tours — one of interest to independent filmmaker Chloe (Katie Booth), in town not only to film a proof-of-concept trailer but also land semi-celebrity Andrew to be in her film. When things pretty much don’t work out the way anyone wants, something reawakens the ghost of Honey Island Swamp: Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) rises to kill again!
According to the disc extras, Hatchet III was originally supposed to be the final chapter: the end, all done, finito. It wasn’t going to happen until after writer/director Adam Green was told at a convention by the late George Romero that it was up to filmmakers like him to keep horror alive and fans interested. Following a series of personal setbacks in his own life, putting pen to paper and starting a new chapter for his franchise became his therapy. He knew actor/stuntman Kane Hodder would be happy, but was there really an audience out there who needed ol’ Hatchet Face to make a return appearance?
Part of the fun for this fourth film is ditching “the day after” of the first three films and moving it to present day. Verified secret-weapon Parry Shen leads the cast this time with an all-new ensemble of both crafty and clueless soon-to-be victims. The production even manages to pull off a private jet crash on a shoe-string budget as a key location for the worries and the killings — no easy thing to do. All good curses have a loophole, even ones that have been broken, and an old cameo never hurts, either. If you’re binging the entire franchise, this is a worthy installment and a clear indication that more is to come.
One specific bit with the “indie filmmaker” spending what little cash they have to make a proof-of-concept trailer is more than just clever: it mirrors the original journey taken by the filmmakers themselves to launch the Hatchet franchise. Seeing the murder site re-imagined with historical markers and Crowley plushies is the very definition of wonderfully bad taste. Of course there are kills, surprises, grandstanding, and dangerous bursts of heroism… everything a good slasher film needs to move the killing along and to produce some of the most graphic kills in the franchise thus far.
Unlike previous Hatchet films, viewers actually get a denouement hinting another film could pop up, that Victor Crowley is the first of a new trilogy perhaps. If it follows other franchises, do fans dare hope for “Victor In Space”? Probably not, but who knows?
Victor Crowley is not rated… like, at all. Enjoy!
Three skull recommendation out of four
Death Meets the Man Himself: Kane Hodder (TFM 2018)