Generally speaking, whenever the creator of a franchise — whether it be a film series, TV show, or collection of novels — says it’s time for the story to come to an end, they’re correct. Franchises almost conclude a few movies, seasons, or books too late. This understanding is what makes it so surprising that Adam Green’s fourth installment in the Hatchet series is not only a fantastic horror-comedy — but what may very well be the best film in the entire franchise.
Picking up a decade after the events of the first Hatchet film (and, by proxy, ten years after the events of its two subsequent sequels), Victor Crowley finds a group of aspiring filmmakers traveling to the swamps of Louisiana in order to make a film about the real-life murders that took place there at the hands of Crowley. At the same time, Andrew Yong (Parry Shen) — the sole survivor of the massacre — finds himself traveling to the same location in order to film a retrospective interview on the nightmarish events. One thing leads to another and Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) is resurrected, bringing more death and destruction to his old stomping grounds.
Featuring a delightful ensemble cast that includes the likes of Laura Ortiz, Dave Sheridan, Felissa Rose, Brian Quinn, Tiffany Shepis, Krystal Joy Brown, Chase Williamson, and Katie Booth, there’s something strangely comforting about Victor Crowley. Despite being filled with scenes of graphic violence and dark satire, the film is so intensely funny that it’s rare to go more than a few minutes without a laugh. Though Sheridan’s lovably eager Dillon is most certainly the primary comic relief character, the entire main cast receives their moments in that regard. In what is quite possibly her best onscreen performance to date, Laura Ortiz steals the show as a deceptively sharp-witted actress named Rose, who also happens to be one of the most likable and durable characters in the entire franchise.
While the first three films in the series flow together in both story and tone, Victor Crowley is something quite different. It’s much funnier than its predecessors, and a majority of the film is contained to the interior of a crashed airplane. Instead of the hapless victims running around a massive swamp, they’re stuck inside of a small plane with Crowley lurking around the outside. While it’s not a particularly substantial difference on paper, its execution provides something quite unique for the franchise. Similar to Frozen, another Adam Green film, there’s a genuine sense of claustrophobia present here; in spite of the obvious humor.
As always, the kills are gruesome, over-the-top, and bloody as hell. The newly resurrected Crowley is as barbaric as ever, and while Hatchet III remains the most violent of the three films, there’s no shortage of brutality in Victor Crowley. Green, with his first slasher movie in nearly a decade, proves that he still understands what makes the genre work, and reminds all of us that he is one of the most consistently entertaining filmmakers of his generation. Filled with inside jokes, familiar faces, and a solid mixture of scares and laughs, Victor Crowley is just a blast.
Victor Crowley arrives on VOD, Blu-ray, and DVD February 6th through Dark Sky Films.