For those of you who have belonged to the Hatchet Army from the very beginning, Hatchet III is going to be right up your blood-soaked alley. If you've struggled to connect with this series, Hatchet III just may end up being the flick that finally wins you over. First-time director BJ McDonnell does an admirable job of taking the reins and delivering a slasher flick that looks fantastic, ties up the trilogy nicely and brings back some of the energy we were missing in the last installment.
Even if Hatchet III’s kills end up being a little underwhelming as a whole, the bottom line is- Hatchet III is exactly what the fans of this series are looking for and it’s great to see this trilogy end as strongly as it started.
Picking up just moments after Hatchet II ends, we find Marybeth (Danielle Harris) still trying to find a way to kill Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), but as we horror fans know, you just can’t keep a good killer down. After she believes she succeeds in offing Crowley for good, Marybeth finds herself in jail where she meets a local writer named Amanda (Caroline Williams) who tells our heroine that she knows how to stop the undead nemesis once and for all. In a little girl power moment, Marybeth and Amanda head back out to the swamp for one final showdown with Crowley and his now infamous hatchet. Of course, there’s a whole lot of killing on Crowley’s part in between.
As a whole, Hatchet III gets a lot of things right; both Harris and Williams are great in the film and the design overhaul of Crowley is something of a modest marvel- we finally get some articulation to the design, allowing Hodder to do what he does best. Clearly McDonnell’s years behind the lens has paid off, as Hatchet III is by far the best looking film in the series. He also amps things up with a lot more action moments thrown in to keep up the energy throughout the film.
McDonnell also manages to work in a fun “Jason Voorhees” moment in the film when at one point, Hodder and Derek Mears’ character have a confrontation that may not necessarily be the moment longtime Friday the 13th fans were necessarily waiting for, but it’s still pretty damn fun all the same.
While Hatchet III does successfully manage to bring back some fun to the series, that’s not to say the film is without its own issues. The kills in Hatchet III feel rather uninspired, especially in comparison to some of the mind-blowing practical effects we saw in the original. Even in some cases, a few of the kills end up feeling a little repetitive and underwhelming, almost like there was nothing left in the franchise’s creative kills tank. For those of you going into Hatchet III just for the kills, you’re going to be disappointed, unfortunately.
There are also some pacing issues with a few key scenes that are clearly meant as character development moments, but as a whole, really offer up nothing new and end up dragging down McDonnell’s otherwise fantastic pacing.
Will Hatchet III win over the naysayers out there? Maybe. Maybe not. But either way, this third chapter in Crowley’s legacy is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor. At the same time, by no means is it going to end up revolutionizing the modern slasher film movement the way that Hatchet did back in 2007. Fans of the series will be happier than a serial killer chasing a group of horny teenagers through a secluded forest with McDonnell’s work here. As someone who has followed this series from the very beginning, Hatchet III feels infused with that same enthusiasm we saw in the original film, which was a nice note to end this trilogy on. It may not be perfect, but Hatchet III is still a ton of fun and McDonnell does a great job at delivering a sequel that feels much bigger and bolder than anything we’ve seen so far in the Hatchet series.
Film Score: 3/5