CONTAINS SPOILERS AND BLOOD. OH BOY, IS THERE BLOOD.
I really liked Hatchet. It's a simple, old-fashioned, non-computerised slasher throwback of the old school - no CGI, no self-referential irony, just an uncomplicated plot in which a mixed bunch of people get stuck in a swamp and the resident boogeyman comes and gets them. Sold on the box as neither a sequel nor a remake, nor based on a Japanese original, it's efficient, unpretentious, gleefully gory and terrific fun. And even watching it again on DVD, it still works. That was four years ago.
And now we have a sequel, Hatchet II, which is in some respects an improvement but in other respects it doesn't quite measure up. Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed Hatchet II a lot but I think the first movie has the edge. Somewhat perversely, I feel it's the copious amounts of blood that get in the way: the kill sequences feel as if they're that bloody for no other reason than that they have to be bloodier than the kills in the first movie - the double chainsawing for example. The need to top its predecessor obviously never applied to the first one but here it feels bloody for the sake of it. That's not necessarily a bad thing; equally obviously, I'm all in favour of blood and gore in slasher movies as you can't really have them without.
Happily there's much more plot than the first one - plot isn't a requisite of the slasher genre but it's always welcome, bringing Tony Todd's one-scene cameo from the first movie to the centre of the stage as he seeks to destroy Victor Crowley forever by giving him the two men who originally "killed" him as a child; this way Crowley can then rest in peace and the swamps can be opened up to business again. To achieve this he gathers together some hunters to go into the swamp with him, along with the sole survivor of the first movie (a recast Danielle Harris). But Victor Crowley is still out there and graphically killing whoever shows up....
It's fun, it's very grisly and soaked in blood, and I did like it. And again it's all done with terrific prosthetics and makeup effects rather than CGI. But while I think it's a worthy followup, I don't think it's quite as good as the first film. I'm also fairly confident that we won't get a Hatchet III, but then again I wouldn't be vastly surprised if one shows up: I just hope it comes before 2014. Hatchet II, meanwhile, is an enjoyable, nasty-minded crowd-pleasing splatter movie that knows exactly what it's doing and how to do it. Good stuff.