Imagine you’re in a backwater rural cabin area in the middle of nowhere. It is a place known for its poor white trash. Prowling around is a man more beast than human, a violent axe-murderer. He is the legend of Cutter’s Creek, the feared Axeman. “The only absolution is the cold blade of my axe,” he declares ominously. A solid crime-mystery thriller, Axeman effortlessly weaves together multiple genres within horror, drama, and even comedy. While clearly a horror film, Axeman has an irresistibly irreverent and funny tone. This is immediately clear from the vulgar slang of the very first scene (“Your breath smells like c**k!”). The whole idea of an axe murderer is lampooned in this film to hilarious effect.
Resembling Jason Momoa, the long-haired ultra alpha-male killer is an almost cartoonish figure. He is somehow capable of surviving bullets and knife wounds with superhuman ease. Unrealistically masculine and powerful, he could easily be mistaken as a caricature of an alt-right Chad. In one scene, an unsuspecting victim hilariously taunts, “Is that you, A*s Man?” Another of the Axeman’s victims (or A*s Man, perhaps!) is literally stabbed through his a*****e. The kills are gory and over-the-top, as the blood oozes ridiculously from the victims’ grunting faces. Their comically strained faces show that gut-busting comedy underlies the thin veneer of shocking brutality.
One noteworthy scene looks like something out of an erotic adult film. A big-breasted bombshell masturbates to Satan after murdering a dorky-but-h***y psychologist. Breaking the Fourth Wall, Axeman is a self-conscious satire of its own genre. When Maureen falls down in the woods in the presumed presence of the Axeman and sprains her ankle, she yells, “This is so f*****g cliche!” “I’m not going to be that bitch!” she mutters to herself, hoping not to be the murderer’s next victim. Another scene mocks the “Get out on the count of three!” cliche.
Set in Cutter’s Creek, the film’s setting is what you would expect out of the rural American South: unrefined, uneducated, and uncouth. Everyone speaks with a distinct Southern drawl, and they certainly swear like a redneck trucker. The movie indulges the viewer in a roll-on-the-floor mockery of Christian fundamentalists, described facetiously as “Jesus-loving shitheads.” These Southern campers regularly engage in comical churchspeak, using Bible-thumping buzzwords like “sweet Jesus!,” “heathen,” blasphemy,” and “the Devil’s science.”
Throughout the film’s progression, Axeman is consistently entertaining with its myriad of plot twists and well-played characters. Although a little boring, the dialogue is generally engaging and well-paced. Although shot in a de-saturated icy blue, this frigid film is full of pomp and energy. With only a few jump scares, the camerawork generally does its job of telling the story. The first act is a lively opening salvo into the film’s mystery-inflected plot. While the middle act sometimes dips, it is propped up well by numerous revelations and plot twists. The final act is furiously fast-paced, laced with killings and first-rate characterization. All in all, Axeman is a reasonably enjoyable and solid watch!