Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet

Year:  2009
Director:  Frank Sabatella
Cast:  Danielle Harris, Bill Moseley, Nate Dushku, Alissa Dean, Anthony Marks, Samantha Facchi

A group of high school friends celebrating Blood Night, the anniversary of the death of a local axe murderer endearingly know as Mary Hatchet, get more than they bargained for when, after attempting to conjure her spirit with a Ouija board, they begin to meet their brutal and blood soaked deaths.  Is it really Mary Hatchet's spirit or something far more unexpected and sinister?

If glowing, exemplary reviews could be awarded simply for good intentions, then Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet deserves them in droves because it is obvious that the individuals involved with the making of the film had a passion for what they were doing and were attempting to make more than a dull slasher film.  But as the old cliche goes, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions," and while Blood Night attempts to stand apart from recent slasher fare, it ultimately is replete with cliches and is almost instantly forgettable.  The film begins with an attention-getting and brutal opening sequence where Mary's ruthless murder of her parents is shown.  This scene is decently done, offering some tension, suspense, and loads of gore.  Certainly a promising opening that offers hope for the rest of the film; however, the film quickly loses momentum when we are introduced to the throng of teens who will serve as the killer's victims.  While character development is one of the most crucial elements to constructing a successful horror film, the characters in question need to be distinct and likable.  Blood Night spends much too much time attempting to get the audience to know and like the various teens.  The problem is that none of them are given any distinct personalities or appealing traits.  In fact, most of them are downright annoying.  Even when horror-icon-in-the-making and two-time Fright Meter Award winner Danielle Harris appears well into the film's running time, her character is so bland and underwritten that her presence is the film is ultimately wasted and even she seems bored with the whole thing.  Moreover, the direction of the film is shaky (literally) and uneven to the point of being distracting at times.  The film does pick up momentum again during its final third with some truly impressive gore sequences.  If there is one area that the film deserves high praise it is certainly for the special effects.  Gore hounds will rejoice at some of the brutal on-screen deaths.  Heads are split in half.  Eyeballs are impaled. Faces are slashed. And all shown without the flinch of the camera.  The climax is rather rushed and becomes painfully predictable, but the old creepy sanitarium setting does provide some decent atmosphere.

Overall, Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet ends up being all bark and no bite; there is nothing particularly memorable about it or that allows it to stand out among the hordes of direct-to-video slasher films released each year. It tries to be clever and stylish, but falls short by becoming too by-the-numbers.  Still, there are some effective scenes and Mary Hatchet is an interesting villain (ridiculous motive aside) when the attention is on her.   Chances are that horror fans will find something about this film that they like, and for that it certainly isn't a waste.

Fright Meter Grade:

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