Chaos Squared // 2009 // 86 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // January 8th, 2010
The legend lives.
On a dark night many years ago, a young girl named Mary Maddock butchered her entire family for unknown reasons. For these grisly crimes, Mary was sent to a mental institution. After years of abuse suffered at the hands of the guards, she snaps once again; rampaging through the hospital, murdering everyone in sight, only to be shot dead by police. Twenty years later, the incident has become legend and a great reason for kids to throw a party. The anniversary is called Blood Night, and today's the day. But this year will be like none other, because Mary has returned, and she's hungry for more.
Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet is old-school to the core. Frank Sabatella wrote and directed a film that could easily have played alongside Sorority House Massacre in 1987, yet still manages to make the old slasher genre feel sort of fresh. He hits the right notes throughout the film. We open with some almost quaintly annoying Frosh trying to scam their way into the Senior Blood Night party. With little fuss, the film moves to the party and we're underway. A little talking, a lot of drinking, and the kids pair off. It's a solid setup for things fans have seen and loved for years.
Although Blood Night doesn't do anything very different with '80s slasher convention, it does everything basically right. While the characters are certainly irritating losers, they do not inspire the kind of hatred in me (like those in, say, Valentine) that makes me root for the killer instead. They are perfectly acceptable as fodder for death and the actors play the roles with plenty of cheesy relish. The heart of the mystery isn't all that hard to figure out, but the ride up to it is fun enough. In something of a rare twist, however, outside of the opening sequence, there is no body count until the final thirty minutes of the film. The build-up is good, though, and it's well worth the wait. Once it starts, the movie becomes total mayhem. At a clip of about one murder every two minutes, gore fiends are sure to get their satisfaction, and it may taste all the sweeter because of the wait. Some imaginative kills, a heap of gore, and a fair level of suspense make Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet one of the better slasher films I've seen in some time, independent or mainstream.
Blood Night comes from Chaos Squared (that's a lot of Chaos), and is available for purchase on demand from Amazon, an avenue for independent film that I really support. The review copy was a screener, so it may not represent the final product. That said, aside from the watermark that pollutes the screen once in a while, the image looks quite good, certainly better than one could expect from a film like this. While it is a little dark at times, the colors are strong and the level of detail is fine. The surround sound is average, with little going on, though the dialog is clear enough. There were no extras included on the screener, but it appears that the final release will have a documentary and some outtakes, at least.
Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet doesn't wink at the audience; it takes itself seriously to a certain degree, which is so important for an effective horror film. There's nothing really new here, but it follows the template and works very well, overall. Slasher fans will eat this flick up. Good show.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Chaos Squared
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Official Site