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The fourth installment in writer/director Adam Green's Hatchet series is 2017's Victor Crowley. The film begins with a prologue in which a man and his girlfriend are in the swampy woods of Louisiana, clearly in love. He proposes to her just as the film's titular villain (once again played by Kane Hodder under a lot of prosthetics and makeup) shows up only to slaughter them both after she says yes. It's an amusing and remarkably gory way to start the film. Cue the opening credits and we're off.
Unfortunately from there, the movie slows down immediately. From here we catch up with Andrew Yong (Parry Shen reprising his role from the last film in the series). He's the only man to have met Victor Crowley and lived and while there are those who believe he killed his friends and not Crowley, he's never the less written a bestselling book about his experiences. In fact, he's popular enough that a female fan asks him to sign her breasts (which he does), and a male fan asks him to sign his dick (which he does not). At any rate, his agent, Kathlenn (Felissa Rose), manages to snag a pretty lucrative deal for him: if he agrees to fly back to the swamp where it all happened last time around and agree to an interview, he'll be paid a million dollars. He's not really comfortable with the idea, but he agrees because, well, that's a lot of money.
Meanwhile, a few filmmakers like Rose (Laura Ortiz), Chloe (Katie Booth), and Alex (Chase Williamson) are trying to make a movie about Crowley. By random chance, one plane crash later and Andrew's crew, the movie crew and a few others (including a pregnant woman played by Tiffany Shepis and a TV talk show host played by Krystal Joy Brown) are all stuck in the swamp. Crowley's family home has been turned into some sort of tourist attraction and Victor? Well, he's very much alive and still just as hungry for carnage as he ever was.
Where the previous Hatchet movies may not have been particularly deep, they did at least tie together and build a bit of a mythology for the Victor Crowley character. Not so with this fourth film. Yeah, it ties into Andrew Yong's past a little bit but otherwise, Crowley is just back, people are stuck I the swamp and most of those people are going to die. That's more or less it. If the stories were thin in the earlier entries, here the story is almost non-existent. There's very little character development and very little plot development, and that makes it hard to get too invested in the film. If the humorous side of the picture pulled its own weight then maybe this would be more forgivable but the fact of the matter is that most of the jokes in the film just aren't that funny.
To be fair, the film has some redeeming qualities to it, however fleeting they may be. When we finally do get back to the swamp and Crowley starts his latest killing spree the gore effects are really well done. There doesn't appear to have been any CGI used so they have that great sort of practical effects look to them that horror fans love. There are also a few moments where the film makes good use of some inspired camera and lighting setups to build a bit of tension. Is this enough to save it? Maybe if you're a diehard fan of the Hatchet series, but otherwise, it's too little too late.
Oh, and if you really think Crowley is down for the count for good? Be sure to watch the movie all the way through the end credits.The DVD
Victor Crowley arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.35.1 widescreen presentation with AVC encoding in 1080p high definition. Shot on digital video cameras, there are obviously no problems with print damage to note while detail is generally very strong throughout playback. Black levels are strong and thankfully shadow detail is too, so while much of this movie takes place outdoors at night or inside a plane doused in red light, you'll still have no problem taking in all the nitty gritty. Colors look great, greens in particular and reds as well (lots of bloodshed in a swamp means that these are the dominating hues), really pop here. Texture is fine, contrast too. All in all, the movie translates very well to Blu-ray.Sound:
The English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix on this release is, at times, ridiculously aggressive. Dialogue is generally well balanced and easy to understand. Generally, things shape up well. There's good use made of various directional effects throughout the movie and the soundtrack and music used in the movie has an appreciable amount of power behind. There are no problems with hiss or distortion. The bombastic and over the top nature of the sound mix seems fitting for the movie. Optional subtitles are available in English SDH only.Extras:
There are two audio commentary tracks here the first with writer/director Adam Green and cast members Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz and Dave Sheridan and the second with Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham and makeup effects artist Robert Pendergraft. Green is the most vocal participant on both tracks, leading the charge as he talks about putting together certain scenes, casting the film, the locations, the plane set, the gore effects, bringing Crowley back for a forth feature and quite a bit more. On the cast track we also hear about how the actors enjoyed working with one another, their thoughts on some of the other cast members like Sheppis, Rose and Hodder and their experiences on set. On the crew track we hear about the post-production work that went into completing the film, the effects set pieces, how and why certain camera angles were used and setup and quite a bit more. Both tracks are quite active and informative.
Dark Sky has also included a length featurette entitled Fly On The Set which is sixty-nine minutes long and is, as the title alludes to, simply a collection of footage shot on the set during the production. It's reasonably interesting stuff and there are some impromptu interviews shot during the production included here but for the most part, it's just a way to sort of stay out of the way and watch Green and company do their thing. A second featurette, Raising The Dead… Again, clocks in at twenty-seven minutes and is essentially an interview with Green wherein he speaks about how and why this forth film came to be, why he worked with the people he worked with on the picture, his experiences directing the movie and more.
Additionally the disc includes a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Dark Sky Films titles that play before the main menu loads, menus and chapter selection.Final Thoughts:
Victor Crowley is the least impressive of the four films in the Hatchet series. Most of the humor falls flat and the middle stretch of the film lags. There's some impressive gore and quality kill scenes here, and in that regard the movie is on par with its predecessors, but it's just not as entertaining. That said, Dark Sky's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good and the selection of supplemental material is impressive. Franchise fans will want to own it regardless, everyone else… rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.