Hatchet 2, I was reliably informed, could happily stand alone, independent of its predecessor, and not leave the viewer hopelessly lost. This turned out to be true, as even though it opens on the final seconds of the previous movie, nobody needs to suffer any confusion because everything that has happened, and will happen, is blindingly obvious.
Hatchet the First ended, in the tradition of 62% of all horror movies, with a single surving girl facing a large monster. Hatchet the Second begins with her escaping.
Her name is Marybeth, and her primary characteristic is being annoying. She contacts (and I’ll grant you, this is a fantastic name) Reverend Zombie, played by Tony Todd dressed like he should be hanging around the Château de Versailles, who is the man to go to if you want answers about a very specific bit of swampland. Marybeth wants to go back to the muck to retrieve the remains of her father and brother, who were killed by Victor Crowley in the previous movie.
‘Who is Victor Crowley?’ you might ask if you haven’t seen Hatchet, or if you don’t have anything better to do like clean the kitchen.
Luckily, the good Reverend Zombie is on hand to fill us in with an unnecessarily long monologue about his origins that hopefully rules out a prequel. In short, 3 teenagers burned a house that killed a mutant kid, and now the mutant kid is large, angry and not dead for some reason. Zombie agrees to go to the swamp with Marybeth to kill Crowley (again?), because with him gone, he can start giving tours of a foetid patch of water filled with alligators.
So Reverend Zombie gathers a team of idiots to be killed in various inventive ways. Or at least that’s the idea, but we’ll get to that below. First things first, this movie has no atmosphere. The majority takes place out in a generic swamp that gives no sense of where the characters are in relation to each other, or any tension as to what’s creeping around. The tone is bizarrely all over the place, characters written like they’re in the tears and misery that come with being in a grimly violent, dangerous situation and then boing! comedy cartoon death. Like if the opening of Saving Private Ryan had the Nazis in machine gun bunkers replaced by Care Bears throwing spiders. Actually, that sounds amazing. If anyone makes that, watch it instead of Hatchet 2.
Anyway, the movie succeeds in making the audience want everyone in it to die horribly. With this kind of slasher, original and creative deaths are the bare minimum that can be expected, but the vast majority of Hatchet 2’s dispatchings can abstracted out to “Victor Crowley misuses a hardware implement on someone until they die”, in the forms of things like a power sander, table and (yes) hatchet. Yawn.
The one entertaining murder comes in the last two minutes, and it’s not worth sitting through the whole thing to get to. The script is like a computer printed out a fill-in-the-blanks sheet in the form of “(boring stuff), Crowley kills _____ with a _____, (boring stuff)”. Nothing stands out, nothing memorable is said, and you leave Hatchet 2 like you’ve awoken from a dream about working in a hardware store on a dull Sunday afternoon.
The only people to come out of this favourably are Tony Todd, because he probably got paid the most, and Kane Hodder as Crowley, who continues a successful career in being large.