BLOOD NIGHT THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET
Director: Frank Sabatella
Year of release: 2009
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 83-85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: Both
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: At twelve years old Mary brutally kills her parents in acts so violent the date was known as Blood Night in the town henceforth. Ten years later a then adult Mary who has been incarcerated in a psychiatric ward is raped in her room by an orderly. This is an ordeal that leaves Mary pregnant but is covered up by staff. Upon giving birth to the baby she is told it is stillborn which provokes a fury in Mary which initiates a rampage in which she kills many hospital staff. She is eventually shot dead by police outside the walls of the hospital. Twenty years have now passed and Mary's deeds have become the stuff of legend in her hometown with the night being celebrated by young people in a similar fashion to Halloween. Mary's ghost is also said to haunt the town as she searches for the baby she never got to hold. On the anniversary of Mary's demise we are introduced to a group of teenagers who are planning a house party in honor of Blood Night. Before doing so they hold a seance with a Ouija board at Mary's grave to try and communicate with her spirit. After heading to the designated party house the festivities begin but soon enough the party guests begin being killed off. Not sure if this is the work of Mary's vengeful spirit from beyond the grave or something more tangible the survivors head off to the now abandoned psychiatric hospital where Mary was once held seeking answers.
Good points: Blood Night begins really strongly with young Mary killing her parents. The scene is intense and chilling and well put together. Building on this is the scenes of ten years later with the now adult Mary escaping and killing again. Again this is well done and very watchable. As the opening credits play we also get a nicely put together series of newspaper clippings and headlines which inform us of how the legend of Mary has grown over the years with Blood Night becoming a kind of holiday in the town. It is all very nicely presented and informative, providing a solid backstory for Mary and a strong opening for the film as a whole.
Following on from the opening they continue to do a good job with establishing the holiday of Blood Night with scenes of people being egged and the many masks etc. It reminded me a bit of Mischief Night which is also set on a holiday very similar to Halloween but this film does a much better job of establishing the origins and history of the day which Mischief Night didn't do.
There are some nice deaths in here such as the scissor stabs, pick axe disemboweling and the first time we see someones face being sliced in half is cool. The special effects and gore are very good and all in good fun. It kind of goes for the more over the top feel to the deaths though as favored by something like the Hatchet series which may not be to everyone's liking.
The Graveyard Gus character played by Bill Mosely is a fun character and a nice homage of sorts to Crazy Raplh from Friday the 13th though this character here is more lucid and kind to the kids which leads to him being taken a bit more seriously by them. I liked how Jen was reluctant to get in the car with him at one point as well which added a bit of realism.
Bad Points: There are too many characters with most of them being young males and I found it hard to remember who was who once they all get together once the party starts. I found it tough remembering names and faces and there was little if any character development for some so it was hard to feel invested in them. They just served as quick fodder for the killer. The film would have been better with fewer characters at the party I think with more screen time for those we do see as with the way it was it felt like a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
During the house party once the killings start the power gets cut and it is so dark it is hard to see what is going on at times. There was a point when who I think were the bodies of two minor characters who were spying on the party from outside turned up but as it was so dark I couldn't identify them and could see almost nothing.
A very small gripe but during the party there was a part where the girls were dancing which I felt went on a tad too long and could have been cut down by twenty seconds or so. It felt a bit uncomfortable to watch after a while.
As good as the gore effects were they went a bit too over the top at times with too many fancy deaths like decapitations and head slices which although cool lost their shine as bit as they got recycled too much as things went on. I enjoy gore of course but if used too much it can make things seem a bit cartoon like and this started to head into that territory as it progressed. There were also a lot of off screen deaths.
Finally there were a few little things that didn't quite add up or fell a bit flat such as the weird scene in the house with the door randomly falling off its hinges. During the graveyard seance the counter thing seemed to move by itself but the letter it landed on didn't make much sense to me. Maybe I missed something but it didn't seem very clear. It was also kind of silly at the end that records of Mary's past were still intact at the hospital. With her being such a famous person in town you would have thought vandals would have broken in over the years to trash the place and steal anything pertaining to Mary.
Verdict: The film started of really strongly, introducing us to the Mary legend which spawned Blood Night really well. The concept of Mary's backstory was pretty good too. Although things start well though and the film delivers some good bloody moments along the way it can't keep up the initial high standard and it does drop off a bit as it goes on. As we don't care about many of the characters there isn't a lot of tension. It is always fun to see how someone will die but we don't really care if they do die whereas really we should be rooting for them to fight back and survive. There isn't really a final girl or boy which doesn't help though it is interesting to see Danielle Harris in a different role than normal. This could have been better but despite the shortcomings still entertains and manages to be an enjoyable watch.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers)
(I'm not counting the doctors killed or the couple detailed in Gus' story).
1) Mary's mom: Stabbed in the eye with scissors, hit in face with hatchet. 2) Mary's dad: Face struck with a hatchet (offscreen I think). 3) Nurse: Has neck broken. 4) Guard: Has head ripped off, we only see the head. 5) Mary: Shot by police many times including a forehead shot. 6) Tyler: Stabbed in back of head with scissors and then beheaded. 7) Jessica: Also stabbed with scissors (off screen). 8) Tim: beheaded with a hatchet (off screen) 9) Corey: Hit with hatchet so that he falls onto a fusebox which electrocutes him. 10) Katz: Killed off camera with hatchet. 11) Huey: Throat slit (off screen). 12) Chris: Head split in half with a hatchet. 13) Nichole: Eviscerated with a pick axe. 14) Gus: Stabbed in the neck with pick axe. 15) Eric: Is pulled out of sight and killed off camera. 16) Jen: Hand cut off and pulled off camera to meet the same fate as Eric. 17) Gibbz: Hacked up with pick axe including shots to groin. 18) Alissa: Strangled by Alex. 19) Alex: Head cut in half with a hatchet by Mary's ghost.