FILM REVIEW: VICTOR CROWLEY
It’s been a little over a decade since Adam Green first dropped his magnum opus HATCHET, on unsuspecting theatre goers. While it didn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it was a much welcomed return to the “old school American horror” that was desperately lacking in genre cinema at the time. It’s warm reception then spawned two more films in the HATCHET saga. These films were filled to the brim with all the practical effects and blood splatter your wicked little hearts crave. Now, after a long HATCHET hiatus, Green has once again outdone himself with the fourth installment in the series, VICTOR CROWLEY. It should be noted that this sequel was filmed entirely in secret, and horror fans nearly lost their minds when it was announced. For this writer, it was a highly anticipated and long overdue return to the Louisiana swamps that ol’ hatchet face calls home.
If you consider yourself a fan of 80’s horror and get off on minimal CGI, then these films are just what the doctor ordered. Adam Green is one of the most exciting voices currently working in the horror biz, and he knows his audience well. Time after time Green continues to grow as a filmmaker, and prove that big things can be done on small budgets. These films come from a genuine love of the genre that is evident in every frame, and it’s no small miracle that Mr. Green has been able to make four of them.
VICTOR CROWLEY could be a standalone film, and it’s considered a “reboot” in a lot of ways. However, it more than acknowledges the other films, and it’s loaded with Easter eggs and inside jokes that will be lost on you if you’re not already familiar with the mythos. The film does a great job of giving the audience a nice little sepia-toned recap montage just in case you’ve forgotten the events of the previous films. Young Victor Crowley was a freakish child who was ridiculed relentlessly by the other kids in town. One Halloween night the town’s children throw firecrackers at the Crowley house to get a peek at young Victor, only to set the house on fire. Victor’s dad tried to break down the door with the titular hatchet, not knowing that Victor was pressed up against the other side of the door. Mr. Crowley kills his son with a hatchet to the face, and a few tall tales and voodoo curses later…a legend is born.
For the past three films people have been heading to the swamp in search of Victor (Kane Hodder), and well, they’ve found him. Belt sanders, power saws, and hatchets…oh my! VICTOR CROWLEY takes us into the life of the lone survivor of these three films, Andrew Yong (Parry Shen). Parry has been in every HATCHET film, as three different characters. This iteration is the EMT from HATCHET 3. After having survived the tragic events of the swamp, he’s made a career out of telling his story. His current gig is traveling the country and talk show circuit for the promotion of his new book detailing those horrific events.
Most people don’t give Andrew much thought, or they view him as joke, while others think he’s the killer and he’s spinning this yarn just for the publicity. Either way he doesn’t appear to be very well liked, except for a few hyper sexualized groupies. One of his biggest fans is a film student named Chloe (Katie Booth), who has dragged her boyfriend (Chase Williamson) and friend/actress (Laura Ortiz) along for the ride. She intends to shoot a mock trailer in the swamp, using the actual locations and lone survivor of the Crowley murders.
Just as Chloe is pitching the idea, Andrew’s publicist Kathleen (Felissa Rose) gets a million dollar offer for Andrew to tell his story in the swamps where the murders took place. Andrew is of course resistant, but his publicist insists and won’t take no for an answer. So off they go on a private plane to Louisiana, and Chloe goes her own way to film the trailer without them. After an unfortunate series of events, Andrew’s plane goes down and Chloe and her friends are the only ones there to help. But, they’re in HIS swamp and everyone is about to find out if the legends are true.
I don’t want to divulge too much more here, as I would hope most of you already get the gist by now. It’s more what Green does with his characters, and how much fun it looks like the actors are having. No one is safe in these films, and all of the characters are quirky in their own way. You’ll get led to believe someone will be the “final girl” and then…maybe not. The film is packed with genre legends, filmmakers and familiar faces that will have you going “shit, I know that guy/girl”. The gore is on full display, which is sort of the trademark of the series. It’s extreme and over the top, while always being played for sick humor. One kill even brought to mind a memorable scene from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, as one victim is impaled with her own severed cell phone-grasping arm. It’s pure madness.
Felissa Rose and Dave Sheridan are the real showstoppers in my opinion. Felisssa Rose is no stranger to horror, most notably as Angela in the SLEEPAWAY CAMP films. Her version of the crass NYC talent agent is hilarious and probably all too real for some. She’s all about the money and making things happen, no accounting for taste. Dave Sheridan is playing the lead in Chloe’s student film, and comes across as a real doofus…oh, and he’s known for playing Officer Doofy in SCARY MOVIE. He comes across as a dumb male actor, but he’s a little more three-dimensional than I was expecting. I know that no one is watching these films to study complex character arcs, but I found his to be rewarding.
VICTOR CROWLEY is a horror film for horror fans, BY horror fans. It’s easily my favorite film in the series after the first one. I had the pleasure of catching this film during it’s road show in October at the Telluride Horror Show, and let me tell you that it felt more like a rock concert than a movie premiere. Fans were cheering, applauding, and laughing the whole way through. The HATCHET films have already garnered a cult following, and it’s easy to see why. With such a loyal and passionate fan base, I hope Adam Green will bring us back to the swamp for at least one more ride. In a brief post-credit sequence, it alludes to the fact that we just might get another one…Long Live The Hatchet Army!!!
VICTOR CROWLEY is available on VOD, DIGITAL, BLU-RAY and DVD now.
“VICTOR CROWLEY is a horror film for horror fans, BY horror fans.”
4 out of 5 Tombstones