Victor Crowley

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Victor Crowley
"As in his previous work, Green does a lot with suggestion, persuading viewers they've seen more than they actually have, but there's still plenty of squirting blood and no small helping of gore."

Five years after Hatchet III, eight years after original director Adam Green helmed one of the Bayou-set slaughterfests, and two years after he began a production process that was kept secret from the series' devoted fans for an impressively long time, we are invited to return to Honey Island Swamp to reacquaint ourselves with one of the slasher genre's favourite monsters. Yes, we've seen him killed (several times, in fact), but Victor Crowley's curse is such that he will always be doomed to return. Blame actor Kane Hodder, whose ubiquity at festivals and conventions has ensured he's never far from fans' thoughts.

Why revisit old territory? Green tackles the obvious criticism head on, reintroducing the series' only survivor, Andrew (Parry Shen) and painting him as a desperate young man whose only access to money and attention comes from recycling his survivor story. This has been somewhat embellished over the years and, being less of a hero than some now believe, he's none too keen on going back to the scene of the crimes - at least until he's offered money.

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Why send more paramedics when you have the original? Andrew's return sets the stage for a showdown, though the film never really puts out in this regard - it has too much else going on. His is one of two groups heading to the swamp in search of fame by association with its sinister legend and legacy of murder. Needless to say, mysterious accidents ensue. Green takes a fresh approach to the century-old tradition of having a summoning inavertently pronounced aloud and hints at a kind of crowdsourced occultism whose potential for disaster could launch many a new horor franchise. These darker themes are presented in a very light and playful way, however, preserving the atmosphere of cheery schlock that distinguishes the series from its peers.

This approach extends to the killings and mutilations on which most of the action hinges. After a violent opening scene, it's quite some time before we see Crowley again, but when we do, he makes up for it. As in his previous work, Green does a lot with suggestion, persuading viewers they've seen more than they actually have, but there's still plenty of squirting blood and no small helping of gore. Green works hard to deliver inventive killings and a scene near the end in which the cowardice of a group endangers an individual is quite nicely done. In other areas, though, the film runs short of ideas, and scenes where the protagonists sit inside a plane bitching at each other are far too slow.

The focus of this film is on pleasing existing fans, and it's well supplied with in-jokes to entertain them. How well it will score with wider audiences is uncertain. For a film centred on Crowley it doesn't really give him much to do - yes, he hits people with his hatchet, but anyone can do that, and we don't get much of a sense of presence from him beyond what's borrowed from the earlier films. The jibes at modern celebrity work well enough but there's limited potential for satire there - one might get more amusement from the real thing. Many of the characters are two dimensional and the actors do nothing to make them more substantial. The film coasts on nostalgia. It needs to swing that hatchet harder to make a mark of its own.

Reviewed on: 03 Feb 2018
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An attempt to make a film about the Honey Island swamp murders goes awry when the killer is accientally resurrected.

Director: Adam Green

Writer: Adam Green

Starring: Parry Shen, Kane Hodder, Laura Ortiz, Tiffany Shepis, Dave Sheridan, Kristal Joy Brown

Year: 2017

Runtime: 99 minutes

Country: US

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