‘Hatchet’ is a slasher film that follows Ben and Marcus, two friends who go on a trip to New Orleans and join a haunted swamp guided tour with six others. Once on the boat, the tour is both languid and predictable, with their guide Shawn telling the group about the abandoned houses and the urban legend attached to them. But things soon take a turn for the worse when the group’s boat hits a rock and begins to sink, leaving everyone stranded near one of the abandoned houses.
Having to deal with the heat and the animals in the swamp, the tour group slowly starts making its way back to civilization. But little do they know that wild animals aren’t the only creatures to inhabit the swamps. Directed by Adam Green, the 2006 film features the talents of Joel David Moore, Tamara Feldman, Deon Richmond, Mercedes McNab, Parry Shen, Tony Todd, and Kane Hodder. A typical slasher film, ‘Hatchet’ has plenty of jump scares and nail-biting moments. But is there an actual urban legend attached to the film? Just how true is it? Let’s dive in together and find out!
Is Hatchet a True Story?
No, ‘Hatchet’ is not based on a true story. The film was produced from an original screenplay by director Adam Green. The idea for the story actually germinated in an 8-year-old Adam’s mind when he was at Camp Avoda in the summer of 1983. Already a huge fan of all things horror, when young Adam was told about “Hatchet-face” and how he would come for any campers if they approached a particular cabin, he immediately made up a story about a deformed child who had been accidentally killed by his own father.
What makes ‘Hatchet’ such a success as a slasher film is the fact that it has an easy-to-follow storyline and the backing of horror film legend Kane Hodder in the role of Victor Crowley, the film’s antagonist. Fans of the genre would definitely recognize the actor’s name, for he has depicted the iconic role of Jason Voorhees in the four ‘Friday the 13th’ films.
Aside from this, the actor also has an illustrious career as a stunt coordinator; a position that he took charge of for ‘Hatchet’ as well. In a making-of video for ‘Hatchet,’ Hodder spoke about how he and director Adam Green had discussed everything about the character that he would be taking on in the film. The actor also said that he wasn’t really a fan of the work he had done prior to ‘Hatchet’ and wanted to dip his toes into something a little different.
Talking about what convinced him to depict the antagonist in the slasher film, Hodder said, “It’s a character [Victor Crowley]. Granted it’s in heavy makeup, but Adam also offered the incentive of playing that character’s father in a flashback as myself. So, you know, I really like that idea because I had been trying to do more-more characters outside the makeup as well. Even though I’ll always like wearing the makeup, I just wanted to do, you know, something with my regular scary face.”
Another thing that adds to the success of ‘Hatchet’ is the complete lack of CGI. Adam Green, as a fan of old-school horror films, also likes to do things old school; which means that the entirety of the blood, gore and the monstrosity that is Victor Crowley were all accomplished through practical effects. All the dismembered limbs, chopped bodies, and broken jaws that the audience sees in ‘Hatchet’ were the result of hours upon hours of work done by the effects and makeup team.
The cinematography also played a crucial role to make the practical effects look as real and seamless as possible. But veteran horror film villains and amazing special effects aren’t the only things that ‘Hatchet’ has to offer. The characters themselves, those that are hunted, are all fleshed out in their own right. As the story progresses and the audience gets to understand each of the characters and their respective archetypes better, the more endearing they become.
Therefore, when somebody eventually dies at the hands of the crazed murderer, it’s like a jolt to the entire system, followed by disbelief and denial. Speaking on the same, Kane Hodder said, “I think the way it is written, you do have sympathy and you actually care about the characters that are getting killed, and you might even have sympathy for Victor based on the story structure.” While there are plenty of blood-curdling screams interspersed with cheesy jokes in ‘Hatchet,’ the film itself is about human relationships and loss.
The characters in the film have met each other for the first time, with the exception of Ben and Marcus, but are bonded through their gambit for survival against an inhuman foe. So when any one of them is caught by Victor and killed in front of them, their reactions are authentic and chilling and ugly, much the same as how anybody would react in real life. Though not a true story, it is the way ‘Hatchet’ captures humanity and human nature that grounds it in reality.
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