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Victor Crowley (2017)
Dark Sky Films
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/6/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/8/2018
We live in a world where sequels have become so ubiquitous that it's actually more surprising when a movie doesn't get a follow-up. In many cases, the decision-makers behind these films are the producers and the parade of interchangeable directors, writers, and actors points to an interest solely in money, as opposed to anything artistic. But, we also see series which are driven by a specific filmmaker. Do they continue to "return to the well" as it were due to the need to continue telling a story or is it more of a security blanket? This is something which we must ask as we look at Victor Crowley, Adam Green's fourth visit to the world ofHatchet.
Victor Crowley once again brings back the titular character (played by Kane Hodder), a ghost? zombie? who rises from the grave to murder those who dare to enter his swamp. Andrew (Parry Shen) was one of the sole survivors of Crowley's homicidal rampage and he's written a book about his experiences (despite the fact that some believe he killed all of those people). Andrew's agent, Kathlenn (Felissa Rose), snags a sweet deal for him if Andrew will go back to the swamp for an interview. He reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, friends Rose (Laura Ortiz), Chloe (Katie Booth), and Alex (Chase Williamson) are attempting to make a movie about Crowley, so they venture into the swamp. This group finds themselves face-to-face with Andrew's team, and all of them realize that they are in grave danger.
In my review for the last film, I wrote, "I have to assume thatHatchet III is the end of the series, as there's really no way that Victor Crowley could be brought back in a way which would make any sense." Well, shame on me for doubting the power of the sequel. So, four years later, here we are with another entry into the Hatchet series. In the extra features included on this Blu-ray Disc, Writer/ Director Adam Green explains the personal reasons why he decided to revive the character. I appreciate Green's open and candid comments, but they simply don't justify the existence of this movie.
Are there fans out there who were pining for a Hatchet IV? I guess (more on that in a moment). But, the movie still feels incredibly pointless. While none of the Hatchet films can be accused of having deep stories, each one did a little more to the Victor Crowley mythos. Green abandons that approach here and presents an incredibly streamlined and minimalist tale as we are introduced to the potential victims, Crowley is resurrected by a very contrived plot device, and then we watch a bunch of fools get killed. Even with its svelte 83-minute (with credits) running time, the movie still feels incredibly skimpy. There is a pre-credit sequence which shows a couple getting butchered in 1964 which smacks of being tacked on to pad the running time. In short, the movie is simply an excuse to show people being hacked up in various ways.
The lightweight nature of this movie really brings the entire Hatchet series into focus and makes one question its raison d’etre. Close examination reveals that Green has essentially recreated the Jason Voorhees character with the luxury of having been able to by-pass a Friday the 13th-esque first chapter. Crowley’s vague “Is he a ghost or a zombie or what?” backstory mirrors that of Jason, and like the later Friday the 13th films, the Hatchet movies simply serve as an excuse to watch characters get offed in various ways. Did we really need a whole series of these movies? As noted in one of my previous reviews, they are basically interchangeable and Green does very little to set them apart. Are there actually people who watch these movie more than once?
I hate to keep repeating myself, but, as I’ve said before, Green has done better work and it would be nice to see him bury the Hatchet for good and move on to something else. It’s understandable that he was in a place in his life where he needed something comfortable and familiar, but part of being an artist is challenging oneself to move forward and try different things. I admire Green’s dedication to the genre and the fact that he still uses latex make-up effects (as opposed to CG), but he’s quickly moving from a growing filmmaker to just another fanboy with a camera.
Victor Crowley fails to bring overalls back in fashion on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Dark Sky Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no notable grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good, most notably the reds, and the image is never overly dark or bright, despite the fact that most of the movie takes place at night. The level of detail is adequate, and the depth is notable, as the characters stand out from the swampy backdrop. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 2.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is a fairly active track, which does a nice job of highlighting sounds coming from off-screen. Therefore, the stereo and surround channels are important for relaying noises coming from the swamp. The plane crash scene provides a nice amount of bass response.
The Victor Crowley Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Adam Green, and actors Dave Sheridan, Laura Ortiz, and Parry Shen. This is followed by a second COMMENTARY with Green and Cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, Editor Matt Latham, and Special Effects Coordinator Robert Pendergraft. "Fly on the Set" (69 minutes) is simply a reel of on-set footage which takes us behind-the-scenes to see the cast and crew at play and the filming of certain scenes. There aren't any official interviews here, but many involved do speak into the camera. "Raising the Dead...Again" (27 minutes) is an interview with Green in which he walks us through the history of the series and talks about the motivation behind making a fourth film, including how some incidents from his personal life influenced his decision to return to the character. The extras are rounded out by a TRAILER and a TEASER for the film.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long