Madison County (2011) – Eric England

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Have you ever said to yourself “I really like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but I hate chainsaws, logical and original plotlines, and actually being scared?” Then you should watch Eric England’s 2011 southern-fried horror flick, Madison County. That’s right. Texas Chainsaw without the chainsaw. Not only is it completely derivative, it’s poorly executed. It would be like if you invented a peanut butter and Vaseline sandwich because you know people like peanut butter and jelly. Also, if I put together a list of rules for horror movie writers, “Don’t name your movie almost the exact same thing as one of the most famous Romantic books/films of all time” would be near the top of the list. Just saying.

So, unless you’re scared by seeing Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep rubbing each other and whispering into each other’s ears for 2 and a half hours, then this movie is already in trouble and you’ve just read the title. And it’s pretty much downhill from there. The overall construction of the movie just doesn’t do it for me. I’m not even talking about horror, I’m just talking movies. The movie doesn’t work. It’s cast terribly. The way it’s written, in the actual dialog, the characters identify themselves in ways that are clearly not the case. I don’t know who the main character even is- but one of them is super nerdy but he talks about himself like he’s some kind of badass lady-killer with a mysterious and troubled past. It would be as if you cast Rick Moranis in Ryan Gosling’s role in Drive. It just doesn’t work.

Now, let’s get to the plot. In general, it’s one of these, “You yuppie, liberal, Nancy-boys are not welcome in our little redneck town” kind of horror movies. We’ve got two college dudes traveling to a backwoods redneck town to interview a local author about a book he wrote chronicling a series of murders that took place there a few years ago. One guy brings along his girlfriend and she brings her other friend. The girlfriend’s inexplicably dickish brother insists on coming too so that nobody bangs his sister (he doesn’t know that the other two are dating). Then there’s some equally distracting and inane romantic drama between the other guy and the other girl. What am I talking about? I know it’s stupid. But it’s basically the first 45 minutes of the movie. Nothing scary happens till they show up in the town about half way through this piece of crap.

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So now they’re in the town, and everyone is acting weird- staring at them, sneaking up on them, going on gratuitous skinny dipping adventures in front of them. Anyway, throughout this poorly-directed mess, the friends decide to split up to try and solve a mystery that’s arisen between the author, the murderer, and the weirdo townspeople. Oh and there’s like a big redneck dude in a pig mask who kills everyone. Well not everyone. Actually very few people. It’s so bad. Anyway, there is one kind of cool scene towards the end but even that is wrought with inconsistency and confusing plot twists that the effect is totally lost.

If you’re making a movie and the killer gets hit in the arm with an axe, make sure that he has a wound for the rest of the movie. He can’t just magically not have a wound 5 minutes later. It’s distracting. And also, I realize this wasn’t a big budget Hollywood movie, but if the killer stands over somebody chopping them with an axe for a while, there should be a wound there too. Not just red dye dumped on the back of her shirt. There weren’t even holes in the shirt. Finally, if you’re the sort-of hero of this movie, you could save everyone a lot of time and just kill the murderer in the 3rd act instead of continually knocking him down with a shovel and running away. Or you could have run him over with the car. Or you could have stabbed him more than once with the butcher knife. Any rational person would have killed this dude by now instead of repeatedly subduing him and trying to run away. Sloppy filmmaking.

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Anyway, there’s not really much else to say. It’s poorly written, poorly directed, poorly acted, and just downright not scary. Thumbs down. (And for the record, the pictures I’ve included are deceptively scary. The movie is not as scary as you might think by looking at these pictures.)

  1. Is it scary: 3- There are a couple of moments towards the end that were kind of intense, but to call this scary would be misleading.
  2. Originality: 2- Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the chainsaw.
  3. Blood: 4- It started off slow but it got a little bloody towards the end. Still not much for a slasher flick.
  4. Believability: 1- No. Just no.
  5. Setting/Cinematography: 4- There are some cool shots of the killer in the pig mask, and I guess the isolation of the rundown backwater town gives you a little feeling of hopelessness.

Final Score: 14/50

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5 thoughts on “Madison County (2011) – Eric England

  1. Someone sent me this link to the review. Thought I’d chime in. Appreciate you reviewing the film and sharing your thoughts. I don’t necessarily agree with them (mainly on the acting front), but my writing was a bit lackluster. Guess that happens when you’re a 21 year old directing your first “real” movie. I’ve got 2 new films coming out next year. Maybe those will do it for you.

    • The truth is that it’s easy to criticize but I actually have a lot of respect for what you do. I know that it’s not something I could do. I appreciate you weighing in, and you’re right-these are just my opinons. I’ll look out for your next two films as well. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Such negativity interests me. I am also interested by your final picture. These types of female portrayals are what make these films worth watching. Wish I could have read more about that. this diatribal rant only makes me want to watch the movie.

  3. Pingback: Contracted (2013) – Eric England | DON'T GO UP THE STAIRS

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