Axeman is a horror film starring Scot Pollard as the titular axe-wielding psycho. He begins hunting down a group of former college friends who decide to stay at a cabin off Cutter’s Creek where the Axeman has become something of a local urban legend. That, of course, all changes when he begins offing the vacationing friends in interesting ways. The film itself has a few good points, but starts off with a bizarre teaser that feels completely disconnected from the rest of the film.
I will give the production crew some credit on this one because, for the most part, it never looks like a low-budget film at all. Visually, it feels on par with any number of slasher films from over the years. The actors do a decent enough job, and some are light years ahead of the others in talent leading to some very uneven scenes. The big problems with this film come from the kills, the Axeman’s history and motivation, some terrible sound editing, and a clunky script that struggles to bring a viewer to the finish line of the film.
While much is made of the terror of the Axeman, we only see glimpses of what he’s capable of throughout the film as the camera tends to shoot at an angle where we don’t really see what happens to most of his victims, but rather just some splashing blood, and Pollard’s fantastically evil grinning face as he carries out the execution. My problem, though, is that the whole thing feels far too sanitary. There’s never enough blood for as much damage as he looks like he’s doing with whatever weapon. There isn’t blood around the set, nor on the actors. When he’s in the act, though, all we see is blood flying up from the victim in a really violent fashion, but afterwards he’s always relatively clean and blood free. This has the effect of making the whole film feel either sanitized, or like they didn’t have the budget for any kind of real effects make-up.
On top of that, while we find out the urban legend and what he’s done in the past, we never really find out why he went off the deep end, or get any kind of hint at his motivation. Sure, he has a really creepy happy face when he’s offing someone, but this doesn’t do much of anything to separate Axeman from the rest of the pack of slasher resurgence films out there. Also, the sound between different characters varies wildly within the same scene where one character will be extremely loud, but you’ll be straining to here what the person next to them is saying. It’s distracting and straining to have to work so hard to hear dialogue, and it kills pretty much any film experience.
My other big issue with Axeman is that at the start of the film, the characters hike in to get to the cabin like that’s the only way. Then, later, this is obviously not the case as we find a truck inside the garage, and the police show up in cars on the way to the house. There’s a whole load of logistics that just do not work with the script on this end of things. The opening hike in doesn’t add that much to the characters, and it’s kind of a terrible lead in.
Axeman is a pretty decent send off to the slasher film though. There’s only a few truly detestable characters, and for the most part, no one is truly horrible, so seeing them get offed isn’t always something to cheer about, which is a big plus. It feels like the late ‘80s Friday the 13th films in that there is a huge amount of people to hunt down, an unrelenting killer, and some fairly incompetent cops. The opening teaser has that feel as well, even if we never find out what is actually going on there. So what you end up with is a decent enough slasher film with a really well cast creeper as the lead killer, a decent enough cast, and a few kills that are worth the price of a rental at the very least.
Axeman (2014) was released on DVD by Midnight Releasing on May 6, 2014. It was written and directed by Joston Theney. The film is 105 minutes in length, and is not rated. Cinefessions was provided a DVD copy of the film for review from Midnight Releasing.