It’s never promising when the director doesn’t return for a sequel, and with the unlikely Hatchet franchise – which somehow continues to thrive despite doing terrible business at the box office – that’s certainly true. Series mastermind Adam Green sits out directing duties this time, instead appointing cameraman BJ McDonnel – who worked on both prior films – to helm, in what is nothing if not a consistent continuation of the franchise, which is to say that it’s really not up to much.
Picking up where the last film left us, series heroine Marybeth Dunston (Danielle Harris) is once again on the run from the never-dead Victor Crawley (Kane Hodder), as a team of cops, led by Sheriff Fowler (Gremlins star Zach Galligan), head to Honey Island Swamp to investigate the crime scene, and find themselves on the wrong end of the titular weapon. The thrill of the first two movies was largely their tongue-in-cheek approach and their extreme, but that appears to have largely been stripped away in part three, even with Green returning as writer.
Though Harris again proves herself a palpable femme fatale, and there’s one welcome allusion to the original film, on the whole it feels like a film hamstrung by its own low-fi presentation, simply warming up the leftovers of the last two movies. The acting is generally better than these ropey horror sequels usually deserve, and it’s great to see Zach Galligan on the big screen again, but Hatchet III serves up a host of unimaginative kills stymied by terrible gore effects. Strictly for fans of the series.
Like just about any anthology film, 2012′s V/H/S was a maddeningly inconsistent mixture of ideas good and bad, yet it nevertheless garnered an appreciate fanbase largely because of its sheer audacity, flying firmly in the face of what the found footage genre typically has to offer. The law of diminishing returns, then, is predictably in effect for a second go-around which, while benefiting from a leaner runtime than its predecessor – running a whole 20 minutes shorter – still feels too distended and drawn-out given its format.
Easily the best short of the bunch – and quite possibly the best from either film – is The Raid director Gareth Huw Evans’ Safe Haven, which revolves around a news crew investigating an Indonesian cult, and benefits tremendously from its manic, unpredictable energy, as well as a cutting sense of humour about itself. Still, the main bugbear remains the thoroughly uninspired wrap-around frame narrative, which is again utterly perfunctory and simply eats up precious screen minutes.
A disappointing follow-up to the hit-and-miss horror anthology, this entry is even more inconsistent than the original, also suffering from oft-incomprehensible coverage and another dull wrap-around story. That said, these films do provide intermittent thrills, and this disappointment doesn’t exactly dampen anticipation for the inevitable V/H/S/3.
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