[Review] ‘Victor Crowley’ Returns to Claim his Swampy Throne

After being filmed in secret and released upon an unsuspecting audience last year the fourth “Hatchet,” film known as “Victor Crowley,” is finally headed to VOD, Blu-Ray, and DVD on February 6th.  Can the mutated redneck from the swamp conjure up new tricks to stay fresh or is it time to hang up his hatchet?

If the name change from “Hatchet” to “Victor Crowley” has you thinking this movie is some kind of reboot of the series, let me assure you that it is firmly planted in the current cannon. In “Victor Crowley” we pick up a few years after the last entry with perennial Crowley survivor Andrew (Parry Shen) still trying to figure out a way to profit off of the events of the previous films.  However, despite his best efforts to cash in, fame and fortune still elude him.  Thanks to his publicist, though, Andrew has a chance to make an easy million dollars . . . he just has to return to the swamps where Victor Crowley once lived.  Tagging along with Andrew is his ex-wife/daytime talk show host Sabrina (Krystal Joy Brown) and her television crew responsible for capturing Andrew’s journey.  Meanwhile, also in the familiar swamps, a trio of indie filmmakers (including Laura Ortiz from “Holliston”) are striking out to make a mock trailer for their “Hatchet” movie with their goofy swamp guide Dillon (Dave Sheridan).  As the different groups make their way into the bayou it soon becomes apparent that their paths will lead them into a deadly confrontation with the legendary Victor Crowley.

Like previous “Hatchet” films, the plot is a set-up to get a bunch of people trapped in one area so they can be casualties of mayhem.  However, “Victor Crowley” is a bit more straightforward than its predecessors.  Where the first three explored Victor’s history and the motivations of the people going to the swamp, “Victor Crowley” opts to keep things a bit more simple and has a more classic slasher formula akin to the later “Friday the 13th” films.  It’s certainly not a negative thing, but it may leave you wanting if you were hoping for more of a evolved story that builds on previously established mythos.

“Victor Crowley” feels like it’s striving for a bit more comedy than previous films as well.  It isn’t slapstick, but the characters feel quippier than before.  Thankfully, most of the jokes land well and got more than a few good laughs out of me.  Inevitably there are a few whiffs sprinkled throughout, but this is undoubtedly Adam Green’s best blend of horror and comedy.  I think the comedy in this one is solid for two very important reasons.  For one, it’s of course a credit to Adam’s sensibility and writing.  Secondly, it’s in large thanks to the performances of Laura Ortiz and Dave Sheridan.  If you’ve watched any bit of “Holliston” than  you know that Laura is incredible at delivering dead pan/oblivious style humor and her character here is very much like the character she plays in “Holliston” so she’s absolutely perfect in the movie and does an amazing job.  Dave Sheridan, well . . . Dave Sheridan is fucking awesome.  Okay, do you remember Officer Doofy from “Scary Movie?” That’s Dave Sheridan and if you haven’t kept up with his other movies, he’s still as amazingly funny as he was back then.  The man is a treasure and his comedic ability makes him the absolute best part of this movie.  If you were to ask me to give you one reason to watch this movie it would be for Dave Sheridan.

Okay, so the comedy in the film is excellent, but what of the horror part of the equation?  Overall, it’s on par with previous films.  Crowley shows up and goes nuts on people.  I’d say there were one or two kills that really stood out in my mind, but overall it’s your standard slash and mash kind of kills.  Honestly, some of the kills felt a bit low budget and lacked the pinash of previous films.  And if you’re looking for straight scares there really aren’t any.  There are a couple of times where Crowley comes barrelling out of nowhere, screaming like a maniac, but overall it’s not as intense as I would like.

And that feeling of not feeling extreme enough persists throughout the movie.  Despite having a new name this doesn’t feel like a revitalization of the franchise. It’s smaller scope, distilled story, and the fact that it’s localized in one spot make it all feel like this is a precursor to something else.  As a result, this movie is perfect for whetting the appetite of “Hatchet” fans and getting them excited about the series again.  However, if you’ve never been a fan this won’t do anything to win you over.  But, hey, even if you fall into that second category I’d still recommed watching it for Dave Sheridan’s performance.

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