Kane Hodder reprising role of swamp-dwelling killer
Credit: Dark Sky Films

Are you ready for a return to the swamp?

EW can exclusively reveal that writer-director Adam Green has secretly made a fourth film in his Hatchet slasher franchise. The movie is called Victor Crowley and once again stars Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th) as the Louisiana swamp-dwelling, supernatural killer after whom the new movie is named. The film is being described as a reboot and is set ten years after the massacre featured in the series’ first three movies (2006’s Hatchet, 2010’s Hatchet II, and 2013’s Hatchet III). Victor Crowley costars Hatchet franchise veteran Parry Shen (Better Luck Tomorrow) as well as Laura Ortiz (2006’s The Hills Have Eyes), Dave Sheridan (Scary Movie), and Brian Quinn (truTV’s Impractical Jokers). Victor Crowley is written and directed by Green who penned all three Hatchet films and directed the first two movies. The filmmaker’s company ArieScope Pictures has partnered with Dark Sky Films on the movie.

In the film, we discover that Shen’s lone survivor Andrew Yong has spent over a decade claiming that local legend Victor Crowley was responsible for the deaths of the forty-nine people killed in the original trilogy of films. Yong’s allegations have been met with widespread disbelief, but when a twist of fate puts him back at the scene of the tragedy, Crowley is mistakenly resurrected and Yong must face the bloodthirsty ghost from his past.

“The only survivor that was ever found was Parry Shen’s character Andrew Yong,” Green told EW in an interview last week. “Now, ten years, later, he’s kind of become a little bit of a celebrity. At one point he’s compared to ‘the OJ Simpson of Honey Island Swamp’ because most people do not buy his story, but he got off because there was no evidence that he had done it. So, some people love him, a lot of people hate him, and now he’s written a book, which he is promoting on the tenth anniversary of the events of 2007. He is convinced to do one final interview back at the scene of the massacre, where he has never returned. Simultaneously to him going back there with this camera crew, that’s going to interview him, there is something else happening that brings back a little certain somebody.”

Victor Crowley is premiering tonight (Aug. 22) at Hollywood’s ArcLight Cinema at an event advertised as a “Hatchet 10th Anniversary Celebration.” The film is also screening at the upcoming FrightFest Festival in London. In October, Green will embark on a “Victor Crowley Road Show” during which he will introduce the film at special one-night screening events across the country. A full schedule of screenings and additional release information will follow. Internationally, Victor Crowley is slated to bow at festivals worldwide.

Although Green is probably best known as the creator of the Hatchet franchise, he has overseen a slew of other projects, including 2007’s Spiral, 2010’s Frozen, 2014’s Digging Up the Marrow, and the sitcom Holliston. He also cohosts the weekly movie podcast The Movie Crypt with his fellow director Joe Lynch (Everly, the upcoming Mayhem). “Hatchet was always just meant to be a trilogy,” says Green. “I was actually quite relieved and happy to be done with it and on to all the other stuff.”

That changed when the director fell into a depression following the death of Scream filmmaker Wes Craven in August, 2015, and was subsequently prompted to return to the world of Hatchet by the late Dawn of the Dead director George A. Romero during an appearance the pair made at a convention in October of that year.

“When Wes died, all the horror filmmakers in my generation started calling each other, in disbelief and shock,” says Green. “That reality that our idols are not going to be here for ever was suddenly very real. You start asking yourself, ‘Well, what have we done that even matters?’ For months, I was really in a depression, thinking that nothing we’ve been doing really matters, that it can’t compare. Then, at Rock and Shock, which is a convention in Worcester, MA., I wound up being asked to moderate George Romero’s panel. After the panel, George said, ‘I know you’ve been going through a rough time, I know you’ve been taking Wes’s passing personally — you have to get over that, and get back on your feet.’ And as part of his pep talk he had said, ‘So, where’s the next Crowley picture?’ And I said, ‘There isn’t going to be one, I’m done with that.’ And he pointed to this standing ovation in the audience and he said, ‘You’ve got to understand, ’til they say it’s over, it isn’t.’ 48 hours later, I’m back in LA, and I’m sitting at my desk, and I’m typing ‘Ext. Honey Island Swamp. Night.'”

According to the director, Kane Hodder was more than happy to reprise the role of Crowley.

“He’s always saying, ‘Oh come on, one more, one more’,” says Green. “He loves it. I actually got to tell him in person. We were at a screening of Hatchet I and II in Denver, CO., and I told him right as Hatchet II was starting, and the lights were going down. He’ll never admit this — because he’s too tough — but I swear I saw a tear in his eye. He was the only one that was actually overjoyed, because everybody else who has been with us the whole time knows what it means to go back into the trenches to make one of these. It doesn’t matter how big or small the budget is, I keep writing them to be bigger, and bigger, and bigger, and we have to figure out how we’re going to do that. And this one was by far the hardest.”

Green reveals that he managed to kept the project a secret thanks to the cooperation of his cast and crew — and with a little help from his Yorkshire Terrier, and Movie Crypt mascot, Arwen.

“The script was called Arwen’s Fancy Dinner and then, when we were shooting, it was called Arwen’s Revenge, just because that was easier to fit on a camera slate,” says the director. “Nobody ever spoke the words Hatchet or Victory Crowley. Everyone has always referred to this as Arwen’s Revenge. You know, you can hit people with all the NDAs in the world, it’s not really going to do much when you have a crew that big, because good luck proving who spilled the beans. So, really it came down to me sort of sitting down with each and every crew member for a while, and explaining why I was doing this, and who we were doing it for. Maybe not everyone in the world is going to have their life changed when they hear, ‘There’s a new Hatchet movie.’ But for the fans that do love this so passionately, it is going to be a surprise, and I’m just so happy that it stayed that way.”

Green admits that he personally found it tough not to spill the beans, especially given his hosting of the Movie Crypt. “Look, you might not know this about me, but I can talk!” laughs the director. “So, it was very hard. Joe knew what I was doing, but nobody else. It was very very hard. Because of the cult popularity of this series, anything I’m doing, there’s always a rumor that it’s a new Hatchet movie. Even season 2 of Holliston, I was surprised to read things online where people said, ‘Is it really Hatchet 4?’ I have seen that rumor out even about this, but nothing substantial. Nobody leaked it — or at least they didn’t leak it to the wrong person. So, it worked out.”

Green explains that the experience of making Victor Crowley has been a revitalizing one. “I wish I could say that all this was just a gift for the fans, that it was just for the people that liked Hatchet,” he says. “But it was for me. I think it saved my love for all of this. And now, I guess, starts the, ‘What about Hatchet 5?’ questions.”

Okay, we’ll bite. What about Hatchet 5?

“We have to see how this one does first,” says Green. “If there’s a demand for it, then who knows? I mean, at this point, anything could happen.”

Watch the trailer for 2006’s original Hatchet, above.