As far as movie franchises go, Hatchet fans are among the most dearly devoted in all the cult movieverse.
So imagine the buzz when, as if almost completely out of nowhere, original creator Adam Green announces a fourth instalment to the slasher series that’s already been made in secret. Titled Victor Crowley after the movies’ fan-favourite villain (a 21st-century Jason Voorhees with a bit more going on upstairs), this soft-reboot returns things right back to where things began; both embracing and subverting the classic slasher stereotypes at every opportunity.
Set the full ten years on from the original incident in the swamps of Louisiana, this newest stab from Green sees the fan-favourite director taking things into serious meta territory. Both a documentary film crew, and a bunch of students attempting to make a no-budget indie, find themselves marooned in the exact spot that Crowley went postal. And despite what Hatchet III might’ve had you believing, the deformed axe-swinging woodsman is very much alive and kicking, thanks to a mysterious voodoo curse, meaning throw your final girl plans out the window, because no one is safe.
And when we say that no one, we really mean it. If Green has proven just one thing with his movies to date, it’s that he’s anything but predictable. This latest Hatchet definitely isn’t anything overly new to the series, or even really the slasher genre as a whole. But what it is, is ridiculously entertaining for genre fans, at every single turn. Keeping things almost entirely in one location doesn’t hold anything back at all for Green, who charges full steam ahead with some of the grisliest – and yes, funniest – Crowley kills to date. The entirely practical blood-letting effects certainly help a whole bunch, but the sheer level of creativity that’s gone into a very simple set-up here is what really should be celebrated.
Kane Hodder’s lumbering force of nature is exactly the sort of antagonist that’s not only kept the genre alive after all these years, but it’s what started the whole thing kicking in the first place. Crowley is the 21st-century Leatherface, Michael Myers, or Jason Voorhees; a sadistic killer with a hulking set of muscles and not a single ounce of mercy anywhere on his person. He picks off the squirming stragglers here just because; there’s no rhyme or reason to his butchering other than that he’s an angry psycho killer, and the simplicity Green leads with here is like music to any true slasher fans’ ears.
Instead of re-jigging origins or dumping exposition by the payload, Victor Crowley focuses precisely on exactly what fans want to see, and nails a fantastically fun tone right from the opening. It’s a cheap movie, and the cracks around the edges do begin to show in the slower moments, but if that’s the price we have to pay for a brand new, stripped-back and seriously effective crowd-pleasing slasher, then so be it.
Victor Crowley was screened as part of Horror Channel FrightFest 2017.