Hatchet Hour

2016-11-11 09:07

What it’s about:

An ambitious lawyer (Erica Wessels) kills her gardener by mistake, fearing confrontation with the law and the impact this will have on her career at a prestigious law film, she turns to her best friend (Petronella Tshuma) to help her dispose of the body.

What we thought:

Belle (Erica Wessels), a fiery and ball-busting lawyer, mistakes her gardener for a burglar one evening and shoots him dead after coming home from a night out at the local bar, where her best friend’s cocky boyfriend, performs as a stand-up comedian. Instead of reporting the accident to the police, she decides to take matters into her own hands and take her chances in the legal system. She fears the downfall of her career at her father’s prestige law firm if the court finds her guilty of manslaughter. She and her best friend, Jade (Petronella Tshuma), disposes the body and all evidence of the crime themselves. Their actions and Belle’s untruthful nature, create a destructive snowball effect of events that spiral out of control.

This local film by director Judy Naidoo, reminded me of your typical film school graduate film project. A high budget production made with all the right gear to make it seem impressive at a technical point of view, but lacks proper story telling and good dialog. One of the biggest problems with South African films the last few years is the lack of story. Any great film starts with a good script and Hatchet Hour is another example of where we put more effort and money into making the film look like a Hollywood production from a technical aspect, instead of focusing on the script and story.

The film is full of fundamental flaws and poor dialogue. The majority of the cast did a good job at acting out there roles, but most of the time Tshuma’s character seemed over dramatised and emotional. The play on racial jokes are blunt and cheesy and most of the time don’t contribute to the film and overall story.  

The underlining sequences of Jade’s boyfriend, Izzy (Adam Croasdell) performing as a stand-up in a local comedy club, gave a good twist to the film at first, but also gets overused at some stage. More attention should have definitely been given to the score (or lack of at most parts) that sounds like a royalty-free package downloaded from the Internet.

The right music plays a vital part in the success of a film and unfortunately this is what effected Hatchet Hour to a great extend. The withholding of music in film can be just as effective and powerful as the right piece of music, if done right. Most of the time when this technique was used in the film, it just created awkward scenes and may come forth as negligence from the filmmaker’s side. The saying, “less is more” is vital when it comes to filmmaking and if Hatchet Hour was re-edited it might have had an enormous impact on the film. The filmmaker sometimes tried to squeeze in too much and lead to some of the scenes being ill fitting and out of place. The time laps sequences used as transitions between scenes came forth as random and as loose clips just put into the film because it seemed pleasing from a cinematography point of view.

South Africa has proven that we are capable of making technically appealing films of international quality, but we are going to have to spend more time and money on the screenwriting process. At least this is not another local rom-com and it is good to see South African filmmakers pushing the boundaries on genres, but rather save your money and wait for the M-net release on the TV at home.

Read more on:    movies

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.