He’s back and better than ever. And, let’s be honest, that guttural moan thing is pretty much iconic at this point. After three and a half years of waiting, the Hatchet series continues with a self titled, fourth installment. I’ve always been a fan of the Adam Green bayou slasher series, from first discovering it on DVD in a Sun Coast a year after its debut to being one of the lucky few to see Hatchet 2 in theaters before it was unjustly ripped from cinemas. If I’m going to be honest, though, 2013’s Hatchet 3 was kind of a “meh” film and I was beginning to wonder if the series should finally meet its conclusion. It definitely reached a salute-able end, and with such a long time passing between movies, I was hesitant but pleasantly surprised when Victor Crowley was announced and debuted on the same day in August 2017. ArieScope Pictures and Dark Sky Films pulled off the impossible, hiding principal photography of a popular movie, and that hype alone has fans waiting for the new film’s Blu-Ray, DVD and VOD release on February 6, 2018. That’s all well and good, but the big question is – how does Victor Crowley stand against previous Hatchet sequels? Was it worth the wait? Read my review below to find out.
The best way I can describe Victor Crowley is Scream 3 meets Jeepers Creepers 2, set in a swampy forest with the Kane Hodder monster attacking two groups of intersecting dumbasses. By this, I mean there’s a ton of self-aware, movie about the movie content, and victims trapped inside a vehicle of sorts while the menacing, hacking bringer of death prowls just outside. Victor Crowley takes place several years in the future, and despite Marybeth Dunstan (Danielle Harris) surviving Hatchet 3, she’s no where to be found and fellow franchise character Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) returns to lead the show. Having been a paramedic in the previous movie and twin to former Crowley victims Shawn and Justin, Andrew is now somewhat of a media frenzy due to releasing a biography about his life and being the only survivor of the last Honey Island Swamp massacre. When his tour manager (Felissa Rose) books him an intriguing but dangerous gig, he jets off to the swamp against his better judgement and crosses paths with a small crew of independent film-makers making a B-movie about the previous massacres. When their plane crashes, both parties are horrified to discover that Victor Crowley still haunts the swamp and he’s not too keen on visitors. Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, Dave Sheridan, Krystal Joy Brown, Felissa Rose, Brian Quinn, Tiffany Shepis, Chase Williamson, Katie Booth, Kelly Vrooman, Jonah Ray and Kane Hodder star in the big man’s return – Victor Crowley.
Where do I want to start with this… OK. There are two reasons why I think Victor Crowley is the best sequel since the original 2006 movie, and that’s due to the camera work and the writing from Adam Green. Shout out to cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada and everyone working on the camera crew for making the most visually pleasing Hatchet film to date. When it comes to the writing, Adam Green was spot on with the comedic aspects of the movie, resulting in chuckle inducing moments that haven’t been seen in this series for a while. The 1960’s era opening kill scene is the best representation of the subtle, off-brand humor written into the script, and it continued all the way through until the end with the hilarious “tho she was small, she was fierce” line. At the same time, I feel as if Green took a more cinematic approach with the script and penned something more dramatic and suspenseful; something a little different than we’re used to. There’s definitely more story content, more broken and budding relationships between characters, and edge of your seat moments that took me off guard. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Hatchet movie without buckets of gore and dozens of severed limbs compliments of incredibly talented practical effects artists. However, Victor Crowley has a little more bite to it and it’s only an average splatterfest this go around. And I’m OK with that.
Staying with the topic of writing, I have to say that Victor Crowley gives a decent amount of time to developing its lead and supporting characters, resulting in very few – if any – throwaway canon fodder. I loved the character of Sabrina (Krystal Joy Brown), and actually feel that she was underutilized when it came to her and Andrew’s subplot. Rose (Laura Ortiz) was absolutely hysterical. At first I was weary of her performance, until I realized she was playing a character that was a few french fries short of a happy meal. Sassiest, funniest final girl yet. And Felissa Rose. What can I say about Felissa Rose at this point that you don’t already know? She’s a beast. She’s an icon. And, honestly, I was hoping that she went toe to toe with Victor Crowley in a more palpable way. Again, underutilized – because Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley and Felissa Rose as Kathleen would have been iconic – but I have to say she single-handedly got the best scene in the entire movie. I can’t go into detail much more than that, so you’ll have to watch it yourself to see what I mean. One final note on characters, I just want to say that I loved that pictures of previous victims were used throughout this entry. It felt related, homey, and familiar. That’s why it’s so awesome that director Adam Green has kept this series under his control, minus Hatchet 3. Every new installment feels like you’re returning home again, and you know exactly what you’re about to see, and that’s why horror fans come back for more again and again. Only this sequel is better.
Victor Crowley was written, directed and executively produced by Adam Green. Sarah Elbert, Cory Neal and Greg Newman serve as producers with Matt Latham as editor. Together, the team created a more mature version of a massive lunatic that we’ve all come to know and love. It still has all the heart, the direction, the sensuality and the gore of previous Hatchet movies; it’s just boosted by stronger acting and stronger writing. Fans of the entire series will enjoy the fuck out of it, and new fans can follow it along to a positive finish, too. Victor Crowley keeps old school horror cinema alive in a beautiful, modern way. Crimson colored, capricious, charming and climactic, Victor Crowley is the best movie in the Hatchet series since the original. No complaints here, so please rent, stream or purchase this movie when it comes out. You won’t regret it. And make sure you stay tuned for the post-credits scene. Final Score: 8.5 out of 10.