Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Blood Night

Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet is one of several recent attempts at creating a new slasher franchise, as were such films as Hatchet (no relation) and Laid to Rest. Like those two, it presents a fairly interesting killer that seems supernaturally powerful and unkillable, gives the killer a fairly involved backstory, and throws in a lot of gruesome kills and nudity (actually, I don’t recall Laid to Rest having any nudity, but that one’s the exception) to make up for the fairly cookie-cutter stories.

This film accomplishes the goal of being a potential new slasher franchise fairly capably, even if it’s not a wild success. As a young girl, Mary Hatchet went on a lovely little killing spree against her family, and was promptly locked up in an asylum, raped, knocked up, had her kid taken from her, broke free (by way of murder) to find her kid, and was promptly gunned down by the police after throwing a severed head into their windshield. We jump forward a great many years, where Blood Night is now a famous local holiday celebrated by the teen crowd (at one point, we even get to see a computer game where Mary jumps out from behind gravestones to throw knives at you and you have to block them by throwing bloody tampons at her), and we get a group of college kids that decide to have a wild party night to celebrate the 20th anniversary. They quickly get down to drinking, telling sexy stories, having sex, and half-assedly stripping down to their underwear and performing lap dances (girl on guy only -- sorry, ladies), and being brutally murdered whenever any of them wanders off alone. Could the ghost of Mary Hatchet have returned to continue her killing spree, or could it very obviously be someone else entirely, since the killer never wanders into frame during any of the murders?

This film does have quite a few nice things going for it. The kills are nice and bloody (though there is one where a person’s head is cut in half vertically that’s a little too blatantly CG to work), and almost every female character at least gets topless (my favorite being Mary Hatchet herself, played by Samantha Facchi, who at one point walks around completely naked, but covers up her pubic region with a strategically placed severed head), and let’s be honest with ourselves here: in a slasher movie, the violence and the nudity are the two single most important factors as to whether or not the film is entertaining.

Which is good, as it falters in most other regards. The acting quality is pretty varied, as one might expect from a low budget production (IMDB has it pegged at having cost $3 million, which is a good deal more than I would have expected), ranging from acceptable (Bill Moseley and Danielle Harris, though neither gives one of their best performances) to pretty lame (most of the rest of the cast). To be fair, the script doesn’t help them much, with fairly obvious twists and turns, and a group of teens that seems to have been specifically designed to be unpleasant in the hopes that we’ll then enjoy it more when they die. Also, while director and co-writer Frank Sabatella does a solid enough job of just keeping everything important in frame, resisting the urge a lot of young horror directors have to be overly flashy and annoy the shit out of the audience (see Laid to Rest -- actually, don’t), he also doesn’t really do much of anything to stand out from the pack, making a film that is perfectly acceptable entertainment that doesn’t really try to excel at all.

I suppose I should be pleased with good, considering how many of the horror movies I’ve seen this month have been straight up horrible, but with all the buildup I’d heard from people online I was expecting something really special. Still, for all you slasher fans out there, it’s absolutely one of the better ones to come out in the past decade, so just don’t get your hopes up too high and you should easily enjoy it.

Rating: ***

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