Marybeth (Danielle Harris) has just escaped from the hulking, murderous form of Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder) in this Louisiana swamp, having seen the other members of her party killed off by him. She swims into the river where she is picked up by a passing hunter (John Carl Buechler) who reassures her that the danger is passed and takes her back to his cabin to get cleaned up. Or that's the idea, but when he learns that she's the daughter of a man with strong connections to making Crowley the monster he is, he sends her back into the night...
Because you don't want to be pissing off a kill-happy psychopath like that, do you? Not that it makes much difference to the hunter and soon after Marybeth has left he ends up strangled with his own intestines, thus setting the tone for the second part of the Hatchet franchise. Or so horror fans would have hoped, except that while the first instalment had been a cheery ride through slasher conventions, deliberately implementing a non-computer graphics approach to its special effects scenes which endeared it to the fans, this time around it was a little disappointing.
Indeed, when writer and director Adam Green found himself defending his movie against those who thought he was a publicity seeker for releasing his opus in North American cinemas without a certificate, that became what Hatchet II was best known for rather than any inherent merit in its moviemaking. Setting aside the non-issue of that publicity - what filmmaker would not wish to gather the largest audience possible for their work anyway? - the chief problem with this sequel was that Green had used up all his ideas the first time around, leaving an air of been there, done that about the whole affair.
Not helping was that the action did not get started until the story was practically halfway over, and Crowley didn't make his first kill proper until the film was in its final half hour, that's including the credits. Sure, we had deaths in the prologue and a flashback sequence, but the sense this had stumbled off the starting blocks was hard to shake. It wasn't all bad, as once Marybeth (Harris replacing Tamara Feldman who didn't appear in this due to "creative differences" or somesuch) has reached civilisation she heads back to see Reverend Zombie, who is persuaded to take a search party out into the swamp to see if they can find the bodies of her family members.
And destroy Crowley, of course, but what that really meant was we were getting far more Tony Todd this time, which could only have been a good thing. As he narrates the flashback you begin to think his rich, throaty tones would be ideal for talking books if the movie gigs dried up, and he's certainly one of the better aspects. Yet where in the previous outing this got on with things with commendable lack of pussyfooting around, in Hatchet II the temptation to check the clock to see how far we were into this and wondering when something substantial was going to occur was all too pressing. The mayhem in the last act was basic but bloody, not half as inventive as you might have hoped, so in the main you'd be thinking this was a missed opportunity as its knowing quality did it no favours and failed to muster up much excitement. You may have been sympathetic to Green, but this was lacklustre. Music by Andy Garfield.