Review: Madison County (DVD)

2012/05/17 15:07:50 +00:00 | Derek Botelho

A group of college students go on a trip to visit a reclusive writer who wrote a book about a local serial killer. This writer just so happens to live in the middle of nowhere, and these kids are hoping to interview him for a thesis paper. Instead, they meet a predictably bleak end at the hands of a maniac in a pig mask.

Writer/Director, Eric England loves horror movies so much that he opened his debut feature, Madison County, with the ending of the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Unfortunately, that is just the start of a film that is a collection of clichéd characters, situations, and dialogue.

Everyone in the movie is attractive and that’s about all the only compliment I can give the cast. The acting is decent for what they are all asked to do, but the problem is that all of these characters are completely one note and just boring. Everyone behaves like they’re just starting high school, and not on the verge of graduating college, breaking any semblance of reality that is built up by this situation. At one point, a character trying to rejoin his friends stumbles upon two naked women swimming, stops to ogle them, and tries to jump in.

The story contains one cliché after another, borrowing from films such as Motel Hell with the pigs head mask, and the previously mentioned girls swimming in the pond that is similar to Tourist Trap and many other slashers from the 80's with girls swimming topless for no good reason. The entire setup hinges on the "stranger in a strange land" trope, but was mined with much more efficiency in films like Straw Dogs, the previously mentioned The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and even Eli Roth's Hostel films.

Shot on the cheap with the RED camera, the film is acceptable to look at, but the cinematography is rather flat. The film also has an overall drained color palette that doesn’t help the contrast. There are a few instances of fairly severe noise and pixel blocking, but nothing so obtrusive that it ruins everything.

Audio wise, it’s a decent job, but there are a few instances of actors talking so fast and mumbling that it’s hard to hear what they’re saying.  DVD Bonus features consist of a commentary with the director, producer, and writer, a trailer, and a poorly recorded Q&A from a screening at the 2011 Screamfest Horror Film Festival in Los Angeles.

For a low budget first time film, Madison County has a decent look to it, and I commend the creative team for pulling this together under such strained circumstances. While it is a derivative slasher, fans of the sub-genre may find that it is a decent way to spend an hour and a half.

Film Score: 1.5/5 Disc Score: 2/5