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Hatchet III (2013)

Dark Sky Films/MPI Media
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/13/2013

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/3/2013

My wife is my movie-watching partner and most of the movies you see reviewed on this site have been watched with her at my side. But, there are some she chooses not to view and some that I choose to watch alone. Given this, I still keep her updated on my viewing habits. When I told her that I'd watched Hatchet III, she said, "Is there a Hatchet I and II?" This perfectly describes this horror series which has carved a small niche within the horror underground, but hasn't made much of a splash in the mainstream. (See my review for Hatchet II for more on this.) Still, that didn't keep the powers that be from rounding out a trilogy, and thus, we get Hatchet III.

Hatchet III opens with the finale of Hatchet II, where we see Marybeth (Danielle Harris) fighting with Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder). Marybeth had gone into the Louisiana swamp to hunt down the legendary Crowley, a mythical creature who roams the bayous looking for victims, seeking revenge for the murder of her father and brother. She shoots and chainsaws Crowley until there is little left of the hulking monster. Marybeth then goes to the police, who, seeing her covered in blood and holding what appears to be a scalp, promptly arrest her. Upon hearing her story, Sheriff Fowler (Zach Galligan) dispatches a team to the swamp to investigate. Meanwhile, Fowler's ex-wife, Amanda (Caroline Williams), a journalist who has written about Crowley, gets wind of the story and visits Marybeth in jail. As nightfall approaches, the paramedics and police in the swamp have no idea what horrors they are about to face. Meanwhile, Amanda shares a secret about Crowley with Marybeth and reveals a plan which could kill the monster for good.

For Hatchet III, series creator Adam Green has decided to stick with writing and producing, handing the directing reins over to veteran Steadicam operator BJ McDonnell. (Green also appears in the film as a drunker partier.) However, this changing of the guard means very little as Hatchet III plays just like the first two entries in the series. In many ways, the three films are interchangeable -- people go into the swamp and Victor Crowley kills them. This wouldn't work right now, as I've just watched Hatchet III, but in about six months, you could show me random kill scenes from the three movies and I probably wouldn't be able to tell you which one was which.

The only real difference in the movies, save for the fact that there are new victims every time, is that Green gives us a little bit more of Crowley's story with each movie. In Hatchet, we simply learned of the legend of Crowley. In Hatchet II, Green revealed more information about Crowley's childhood and his father, giving us details about how he became a killer. With this latest film, we learn why he can't be stopped. This does add a little something new to each movie, but this entire story could have been told in one movie. I don't know if Green is coming up with something new each time, or if he had this outlined from the outset and has been purposely giving us tidbits with each movie.

Here's something that I do know (and I mentioned this in my review for the second film), Green is better than this. His film Frozen and his TV show Holliston prove that he can be clever and creative. The Hatchet films are incredibly derivative and feel like no real thought went into them. Having said that, Hatchet III isn't a total bust. Zach Galligan is good in his role and it's interesting to see Caroline Williams (of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 fame) back on the screen. However, the guy who steals the show is Cody Blue Snider, the son of Twister Sister frontman Dee Snider. Cody provides the comic relief in the film and he is very good. In fact, Green should have opted to make the film a comedy and put Cody in the lead. I have to assume that Hatchet III is the end of the series, as there's really no way that Victor Crowley could be brought back in a way which made any sense. What am I saying? There's always a way for a killer to come back!

Hatchet III features an odd game of "Urn Toss" during the finale on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Dark Sky Films and MPI Media. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a hint of grain and no defects from the source materials. The bulk of the film takes place at night, but the image is never overly dark or bright. McDonnell has wisely chosen to make the jail cell scenes very white to juxtapose with the swamp scenes. The red blood looks good, as do the other colors. The image displays good detail, as we can make out textures on objects. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The mix highlight sounds coming from various corners of the swamp, and thus we get good effects from the front and rear channels. These are nicely detailed and the surround speakers deliver individual sounds during the action scenes. Gunshots and explosions do a fine job of bringing the subwoofer into the mix.

The Hatchet III Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Producer Adam Green, Director BJ McDonnell, Cinematographer Apher Will Barratt, and Make-up Effects Artists Robert Pendergraft. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with Green, McDonnell, and Kane Hodder. "Hatchet III - Behind the Scenes" (9 minutes) opens with Green confessing that he came up with Crowley when he was 8 years old. That explains a lot. The remainder of this piece offers "fly on the wall" video from the set, which shows scenes being set up and some important moments being filmed. We witness the detailed process of transforming Kane Hodder into Victory Crowley in "Raising Kane" (5 minutes). "Swamp Fun" (9 minutes) is simply more on-set video, but this offer more comments from the cast and crew, who talk about the shooting conditions. The extras are rounded out by a TRAILER and a TEASER for the film.

Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2013.