Directed by BJ McDonnell
The Hatchet series is a campy homage to slasher films, their clever butchery and bananas mythologies. But what of their substance? In each Hatchet movie, a woman, Marybeth, and assorted red shirts keep knocking up against Victor Crowley, an evil bayou spirit with a Jason-like origin story that has expanded with Freddy Krueger-esque melodrama: he was a deformed child accidentally killed by his father after a prank by local kids, and now he haunts the area around the old cabin, inventively killing anyone who comes too close. There was also some infidelity and, like, a curse or something, which is what half of this installment is devoted to: it alternates between exposition—what is the spell and how do we break it?—and marshland murder.
But really: this is less about the story than the, ahem, execution. There's the character whose skull and spinal column are torn out from the inside, or the other literally torn limb from limb. (Series helmer Adam Green wrote the script but handed off directing duties to his cameraman, BJ McDonnell.) In the first 200 seconds, we see a shotgun blast to the face, followed by a character cut in half by a chainsaw, starting at the groin, pints of blood misting out onto the assailant's face like, haha, urine. (Part three picks up right where part two left off, which began right where part one ended, which as a structure is more homage—to Halloween II, among others.) Still, the monster's not dead, thanks to a genre-ribbing twist: Crowley is cursed to reappear every night alive and whole, so you can cut him into 1,000 pieces and still release a part four set the next day.
The movie's rife with superficial genre appreciation: frequent Jason-potrayer Kane Hodder plays Crowley; Rob Zombie-regular Sid Haig makes a cameo; and so on. But the best horror movies succeeded not because of their casts but because of their directors and the ideas they put into play. Several characters spew white trashy racism in Louisiana-set Hatchet III, enough so that Crowley starts to seem like the monstrous embodiment of that bigotry, of our worst conceptions of The South: irrationally, irrepressibly, indiscriminately angry, lashing out with brute force. And he can't be extinguished! He just keeps coming back! At least until he finally deals with those daddy issues, which could you read as some sort of reckoning with the Confederate past. Or, you know, whatever.
Opens June 14