A cast of unknowns, a swampy abandoned bayou, a ruined house, buckets of gore, and a deformed backwater psycho. Classic horror, in other words.
And you have to admit, "Hatchet" never pretends to be anything it's not -- a horror movie in the classic slasher vein, with lots of blood and dismemberment. Adam Green doesn't do anything we haven't seen before, but he does it with such gleeful enjoyment. And gloriously satirical dialogue ("Your nipples are dumb!").
A bunch of guys are at Mardi Gras, enjoying the beer, beads and breasts. Ben (Joel Moore) is depressed about a recent breakup, so he decides to drag his pal Marcus (Deon Richmond) on a haunted boat trip. Since the main guides no longer do night tours, Ben and Marcus end up on a tiny boat with two dumb tourists, two softcore porn actresses, their "producer," and a mystery girl with a gun.
But then the newbie guide accidentally runs them into a rock, and they run afoul of gaters. And then Marybeth (Tamara Feldman) reveals the horrifying truth -- she's there to find her brother and father, who vanished in this same swamp. Supposedly it's haunted by the ghost of Victor Crowley, a horribly deformed boy who was accidentally killed by his father during a fire.
Of course, nobody buys this until a grotesque creature comes jumping out of the old Crowley house and hacks up the tourists with a hatchet. Terrified, the people go running through the woods, with Victor hot in pursuit -- and their only hope of escape is to get back to New Orleans. But how can they escape someone who cannot be killed?
Again, this has all been done before -- think "Halloween" meets "Friday the 13th," with dashes of other horror classics thrown in there. But you know, that's good -- Green is just trying to make a funny, gory, entertaining horror movie without pretensions. And no, the black guy and the slut are not the first ones to die (just for your info).
The first half of the movie is basically buildup and murky bayou atmosphere. Then Victor starts dismembering people, and from then on it's all about people running around shrieking, and getting killed off one by one. That would be a bit boring after awhile, but Green keeps it interesting by throwing in a few twists -- and the last scene will make you hide under your bed.
Along the way, we have ripped-off heads, chainsaw murders, buckets of gore, and lots of gruesome deaths shown in bloody detail. But to keep things from ever getting too serious, there's some bleak comedy (including Marcus' gradual fall from a tree). Most of it comes from the feuding porn girls ("Are you sure the number is 911?"), but there are some priceless lines from other characters ("He fell into the water... hit his head... and... SUED ME FOR NEGLIGENCE! That C***SUCKER!").
All the actors do nice solid jobs in their roles -- Moore is a likable nice guy who inexplicably keeps his head in a crisis, and Richmond is fun as the guy who REALLY didn't want to go on this. Feldman really rules the story as the feisty, grim love interest, but all the actors are good -- and Mercedes McNab and Joleigh Fioreavanti are a riot.
As for the bad guy? Well, Kane Hodder (aka Jason Vorhees) makes a wonderfully grotesque slasher villain, looking like an orc with a hunchback. Given his backstory, you'd feel sorry for the guy if he weren't trying to carve everyone into lunch meat. And note to horror geeks -- keep an eye out for Tony Todd/Candyman, playing a very POed "Reverend Zombie."
"Hatchet" is all unpretentious gore and dismemberment -- and hilarious love note to classic slasher horror. Funny, crazy, and not terribly complex.