A group of students travel to Madison County with the intent of interviewing a local author. The author wrote a book profiling a man that is reportedly responsible for a number of unexplained deaths in the area. Many people believe that the man on which the book is based is nothing more than a local legend but others hold on to the assertion that he is quite real. Once the students arrive, the locals rebuff them and they are unable to locate the author for whom they are searching. Making matters worse, the young scholars are picked off by a killer that is very similar to the one that is described in the book.
Written and directed by Eric England (Contracted), Madison County is one in a long line of films that pits outsiders against the residents of a small town. It is in the vein of films like The Hills Have Eyes or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Though it doesn’t necessarily make a long lasting impression, it isn’t entirely bad, either.
This backwoods slasher flick received a lot of negative reviews upon its DVD release in 2012 but I have to say that I think a lot of the critiques were more unforgiving than is necessarily warranted. Though Madison County isn’t a perfect film, it does some things right and it deserves a certain amount of credit for its collective merits.
Madison County is short and to the point. It’s only 81-minutes long but it gets done what it needs to in that time. It is smartly paced and keeps the viewer on their toes. It doesn’t insert any unnecessary filler. It just goes right at it. There are a couple of twists along the way that I didn’t see coming and the ending is pretty surprising, as well. Eric England shows that he understand how to create tension and develop an unsettling atmosphere.
The pig mask is one of the more original aspects to this feature. It’s a more ominous looking disguise than some of the ridiculous getups that have been worked in to low budget horror films. Also, the killer displays a higher intellect than a lot of slasher movie killers, which is a nice change.
As far as the effects go, the carnage is really good for a low budget, independent film. The deaths occur on camera and utilize makeup and prosthetics over CGI. There are some very brutal and fairly imaginative kill sequences that occur throughout the film.
The acting isn’t this film’s strong suit. The actors’ collective lack of experience shows but I’ve certainly seen worse. The biggest problem with the performances is that a lot of the scenes are a little melodramatic which makes some of the performances a hard sell at times.
There is little to no character development and the characters are all fairly two-dimensional. The audience doesn’t really develop a strong bond to any of them. But since the killing starts shortly after we are introduced to the cast, character development is not entirely necessary. It seems a bit counterintuitive to flesh out a film’s cast and then immediately begin killing of its members. On the plus side, it’s not instantly obvious which characters will die when. I thought I had the final girl pegged from the get-go and I was actually dead wrong.
One of the film’s biggest downfalls is the cinematography. The camerawork is choppy and the editing is very poorly done. Both were very distracting.
After all is said and done, I was ultimately able to look past the amateur editing, below average acting, lack of originality, and poor cinematography to find some enjoyment in this film. The killer’s mask is unique, there are some legitimate moments of tension, and a few twists along the way that allowed me to get past what doesn’t work in this film. If you check it out with low expectations and an open mind, you may actually enjoy it. Madison County is now available on DVD.
Director(s): Eric England
Writer(s): Eric England
Stars: Ace Marrero, Colley Bailey, Matt Mercer
Studio/ Production Co: Swim with the Fish Productions
Length: 91 Minutes