The third installment in Adam Green's old-school gore-fest Hatchet horror franchise, Hatchet III, is more of what horror fans expect to see in a Hatchet three-quel. Gore galore. New director, BJ McDonnell, is present but the Hatchet you know and love is still intact and back for more. Like you, right?
This franchise's cult following of Hatchet has stuck around since Hatchet came out in 2006 for a reason, people. Starting out on a very low budget, with Kane Hodder as the unstoppable antagonist Victor Crowley (which horror icon isn't?), a few big-name iconic horror actors making cameos (Tony Todd, for one) and up-comers in the genre (i.e.: Danielle Harris and a branched-out Joel David Moore), director Adam Green had a lot to prove to his audience of horror aficionados. His promise of back-to-basics, all practical prosthetic/gore effects definitely delivered back in 2006 and 2010 with Hatchet II as well. All kinds of gore and gut-wrenching effects were on display, and from a horror fan's perspective it totally rocked.
The story so far is that Marybeth, as seen in Hatchet II and Hatchet III, is played by Danielle Harris (from an excellent and underrated indie vampire film "Stake Land") has survived two single-handed massacres at the hands of deformed backwoods bayou slasher villain Victor Crowley. Both times she's walked away barely alive, first with a swamp tour guide and second with a band of hunters, before which she learned of her family's connection with the Victor Crowley legend and thought she could end it. And Victor Crowley comes back yet again from the dead. That's convenient for two reasons: one, for a few sequels, and two, to continue the barely-there but still interesting story of Marybeth's gory-as-hell fight against a seemingly unstoppable deformed monster. This time around, Marybeth is bailed out of jail (after landing there upon her return from "killing Victor Crowley" in the film's beginning and perhaps most brutally gory sequence) by a Crowley myth-journalist and the Sheriff's Deputy in order to save the lives of half the Baton Rouge police department, SWAT Team and paramedics assigned to investigate the massacres, and clean and bag the aforementioned massacres. What do you think happens?
While familiarity in plot structure in this horror franchise will come as no surprise to horror fans, plot structure itself is not the main draw of a film franchise with Hatchet as its title. Gore is the main draw of every Hatchet film, and every over-the-top gore-fest out there, past and present. In the first, the gore factor was high, with brutality on a smaller scale. In the second, the gore factor was amped up another notch with a larger budget and bigger scale with the same level of on-screen brutality. In number three, the ante of gore and brutality is amped up to eleven with a combined scale and budget of the past two. Gore and blood-spatters are delivered by the bucket loads and dismemberment, evisceration, decapitation, etc is on display in explicit fashion. Name any violent death, it's here.
Danielle Harris continues to embue a solid performance as Marybeth, making her own mark as a strong and foul-mouthed horror heroine for today's horror cinematic landscape. She's got the tough-survivor shtick down, and she's more importantly she can deliver the good one-liners.
In addition, Sid Haig of many a Rob Zombie film, including THE DEVIL'S REJECTS and HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, makes a very ethically offensive but colorful cameo nonetheless as the stereotypical old-man recluse.
In all, Adam Green's Hatchet horror franchise is a love-letter to the golden age of horror, the 1970's through the '80s, primarily. When nearly all horror films were made to shock, disgust, and delight viewers with monstrous villains, crazy gore, and sometimes pesky teenagers. When horror was the underdog genre in cinema. The Hatchet franchise may or may not be dead. I can't say, because I don't like spoilers; and you probably don't too. If Victor Crowley still has life left in him, you bet your ass there'll be a fourth Hatchet. Maybe, we'll see. But in all likelihood, who knows...?