The first "Hatchet" is a love it or hate it movie. Some loved its love for the old school slasher movie, its dedication to all out gore, and the unapologetic tits and irreverent humor. Others found it to be terrible, sophomoric, and too much like a movie from a fan-boy than the real deal. Me? I always found it to be easier to appreciate than actually like. To me, "Hatchet" is a movie with its heart clearly in the right place, and it has some fun performances, amusing humor and spectacular gore, but it ultimately a movie that wants too much to be loved by horror fans, and feels a bit hit and miss. Needless to say, Adam Green followed that up with the psychological drama "Spiral" and "Frozen" (which I recommend), two movies that couldn't have been further from the over the top nature of "Hatchet." However, fans of that movie were pining for a sequel, and that's what Green gave us.
"Hatchet II" takes place right where the first one ended: Marybeth (now played by Danielle Harris) is in the hands of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder), but manages to escape. Meeting with Reverend Zombie (Tony Todd), she learns that her family has a connection. That out of the way, she still wants payback, so Zombie gets together a crack team made up of Justin (Perry Shen), brother of the previous film's Shawn, a gang of hunters, horny redneck Layton (A.J. Bowen), a tough guy in Trent (R.A. Mihailoff), and Marybeth's Uncle Bob ("Fright Night" and "Child's Play" director Tom Holland) to put an end to Crowley's reign of murder once and for all.
There are things that I do like about "Hatchet II". The score by Andy Garfield is great, the kills and gore and more over the top and graphic, a few of the jokes are pretty funny, and a few of the performances (especially Todd, whose great) are fine. Plus, it's impossible to hate a movie that uses the song "Just One Fix" by Ministry. The highlight however, is the big finale, which actually made me stand up and cheer, and rewind the movie.
All of that out of the way, the film ultimately ends up being hit and miss. While Green clearly means well, it feels too much like he's making a movie for the fans, but forgot about other viewers. Yeah, if you loved the first one then you'll love this one, but if the first movie left you thinking "that wasn't bad, but it could be better", then this one won't blow you away either. Also, many of the performances are actually pretty poor. Harris, God bless her, tries her best, and I normally like her, but the ridiculous southern accent and poor dialogue given to her doesn't help matters. That out of the way, she's better than Colton Dunn as Vernon, whose just plain annoying, as is Holland as Uncle Bob. Whoever told him "hey man, you can act!" should probably reconsider their casting decisions.
Speaking of which, you spend too much time getting to know these characters, but you don't care about any of them, save for Marybeth and Justin. Plus, the movie isn't as funny or cleaver as it thinks it is. A scene where Bowen and Alexis Peters having sex is supposed to be funny, but its actually pretty lame (save for what happens after Bowen is killed-that was kinda funny.)
Like the first "Hatchet", I wanted to like this movie more than I did. I know fans will eat it up, and some readers might think "you just don't get it." Maybe I don't, but that's still no excuse. "Hatchet II" is a movie that's eager to please, but can only do so sometimes, and I wanted more than sometimes.