Hatchet Film by Adam Green

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Slasher film is, perhaps, a rather unique, one-of-a-kind genre indeed. Oftentimes, such films manage to become significant popular culture markers despite all odds. Slashers often have low budget, which strongly lowers their aesthetic quality, rarely bring up any considerable themes or ideas, and are subject to rather strong skepticism. At the same time, such films often become cult classics that are praised by the audiences even after many years after the film’s release. One of the examples of such films is Hatchet directed by Adam Green and released in 2006. Despite being initially panned by the critics and having a rather low box office, the film received a cult status, generating 3 sequels, a prequel, and even being compared to other classic slashers such as Friday the 13th.
Hacking the Success Despite All Odds
Since Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was released in 1960, it has been praised as one of the best horror films of all time. Many directors would take that film as an example while creating their approach and visualizing scenes in many horror films ever since. With the rise of technology in the 1970s, many younger movie makers would also attempt to replicate that style and even exaggerated it for greater visual effect. Since then, and up until 1984, a number of slasher films were created, much to commercial, yet not critical success. Such films as Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Halloween (1978), and Friday the 13th (1980) were created during that period and would instantly become modern classics spawning many sequels and spinoffs (Harris). The genre would become stagnant during the late 1980s and the 1990s, with more active attempts to reanimate the genre in 2000s and 2010s. In most cases, such attempts were not commercially and critically successful, yet were warmly welcomed by fans of the genre and some achieved a cult status, similarly to their predecessors.
The film Hatchet was released in 2006 and was written and directed by Adam Green. The narrative of the film follows a group of tourists stranded in the woods and stalked by a mysterious Victor Crowley, a deformed figure killing anyone trespassing his territory. Typically for the genre, the majority of the film’s characters are killed in a variety of gruesome ways, only to end on a cliffhanger (Green). Upon film’s release, Hatchet did not become either commercial or critical success. However, the audience appeared to have enjoyed the movie and some would even compare it to Friday the 13th while the production companies were keen to finance the sequels.
The comparison of Hatchet to its highly successful predecessor Friday the 13th is quite reasonable as both films contain many similarities. Firstly, Adam Green was adamant about creating a slasher in a classic way, hence the film was created without using any computer graphics (“Hatchet (2006) – Trivia”). This, however, did not lower the quality of the film regarding its visual aspect much. The critics that would negatively review Hatchet would note that the film does not bring anything new in particular to the cinematic world yet contains tasteful special effects (Bradshaw). Another similarity was noted in the main antagonist, Victor Crowley who is very similar to Jason Voorhees for his physique and the choice of crude bladed object (hatchet in Crowley’s case) as a weapon. While this is not a new idea, the retrospective reviewers praised the film for its devotion to classics with aesthetic choices relevant at the time (Allen). Hence, despite not being commercially successful, Hatchet was not exactly panned by the critics. One of the major issues for the film was its lack of principal originality. However, it can be justified by the fact that slasher films are rather limited in essence, with only setting and characters being variable.
Conclusion
Despite many odds that slasher films face in general, and that the genre experienced at the time, Hatchet can be confidently considered a modern slasher classic. While it is not exactly new or original, it managed to replicate the majority of the aesthetics of the genre in its contemporary context. This creates a dual quality for the film. On one hand, the fans of slasher films like Friday the 13th enjoyed the “old school” approach of Adam Green who managed to confidently direct the film without using CGI. On the other hand, the modern viewers are able to appreciate a slasher film created using all other available technology.
Works Cited
"Hatchet (2006) - Trivia". Imdb, 2022, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0422401/trivia/.
Allen, Tracy. "Adam Green’S ‘Hatchet’ (2006) Is A Modern Classic". Pophorror, 2016, https://www.pophorror.com/adam-greens-hatchet/.
Bradshaw, Peter. "Hatchet". The Guardian, 2006, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2007/oct/05/horror.
Green, Adam. Hatchet. Anchor Bay Entertainment, 2006.
Harris, Mark. "Slasher Movies Are A "Cut" Above The Rest". Liveabout, 2019, https://www.liveabout.com/slasher-movies-1873211.

May 12, 2022
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