J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Victor Crowley: The 4th Hatchet

There seems to be a trend in horror movies to drop the series name and numbering, in favor of the signature villain’s name, as in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre becoming Leatherface and Saw becoming Jigsaw. The fourth Hatchet film is the latest to go down this path, but in this case, there is a little life (and plenty of gory death) left in the franchise. Indeed, for a film about the ghost of a deformed psychopath hacking people to bits in the swamps of Louisiana, it is shockingly funny. The big dude swings the hatchet again in Adam Green’s Victor Crowley (trailer here), which releases today on DVD and VOD.

You could call Andrew Yong the “final boy.” Through sheer dumb luck, he survived Hatchet III, but the succeeding ten years were difficult. After being tried and exonerated for Crowley’s murders, he has done his best to trade off his notoriety. Reluctantly, he accepts (a deceitfully exaggerated) offer to return to Honey Island Swamp with a camera crew and his ex-wife “Sabrina,” a bargain basement Oprah. Drat the luck, their charter flight crashes right over Crowley’s old stomping grounds.

It has been ten years since Crowley was last heard from, but he is about to come back with a vengeance, thanks to Chloe’s micro-budget film crew. To film a proof-of-concept trailer about the Crowley murders, she plays several YouTube videos of freaks reciting the voodoo incantation that raised Crowley the first time around. That is what we in the horror movie business call a very bad decision.

Naturally, a supernatural psychopath like Crowley always hits the ground running. Soon the remnants the film crew take refuge in the wrecked plane’s fuselage with Yong and his party. Unfortunately, Yong the former survivor knows only too well it is only a matter of time before Crowley finds a way in.

Granted, Crowley is ridiculously over-the-top gory, but it is also wickedly sly and witty. This is honestly a funny film that mercilessly skewers the media and fame seeking behavior. Plus, there is plenty of what could be called splatterstick humor.

Parry Shen is totally on the money as the disgusted-at-himself Yong. Likewise, Krystal Joy Brown is horrifyingly spiteful as Serena. Together, they share some terrific non-Valentines chemistry. As a bonus, Crowley features three horror movie veterans doing their thing: Kane Hodder as the big guy himself, Tiffany Shepis as one of Serena’s unfortunate production assistants, and Chase Williamson as Chloe’s indulgent boyfriend.

Admittedly, VC is  built around some pretty conventional horror movie terrain. The key art certainly looks savage—and it is not misrepresentative. Yet, Green’s writing is still as razor-sharp as it is in his uber-meta mashup Digging Up the Marrow. This is a hip, snarky, and caustic film, fully stocked with mordant mirth and plenty of body parts. Highly recommended for discerning slasher fans, Victor Crowley releases today on DVD and VOD, from Dark Sky Films.

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