Madison County (DVD)
Directed by Eric England
Distributed by Image Entertainment
Slasher movies have been around for decades now and over that time, we've seen countless slashers come and go with only a handful of them leaving us with truly memorable villains. Now, the latest slasher flick that's heading our way courtesy of the fine folks at Image Entertainment is Madison County by up-and-coming filmmaker Eric England who also penned the script.
The film follow a group of college kids (Colley Bailey, Ace Marrero, Matt Mercer, Natalie Scheetz and Joanna Sotomura) who are in search of the truth behind a small town legend named Damien (Nick Principe) who has supposedly been lurking in the forests of Madison County for years, killing helpless victims and always on the search for new unsuspecting prey.
Despite receiving warnings to leave the legend in peace once they arrive in Madison County, the group of five friends set out to discover the truth behind Damien and his story only to get caught by the deadly killer in the very woods he calls home; soon the race is on between the killer and the group of outsiders and once Damien is on the hunt, you can bet no co-ed will be left standing at the end.
As a whole, Madison County is certainly better than most independent slasher flicks these days but overall, isn't necessarily doing anything to change things up within the subgenre either. However I suspect that wasn't necessarily what England set out to do here so that's not a knock at the filmmaker at all. The reality is that slasher films are a tried and true formula and as a storyteller, England plays it on the safe side by delivering many of the familiar tropes we've come to expect from flicks of these nature which feels somewhat like comfort food for the horror-loving soul; it's not always cooked perfectly but it's always a welcome dish.
Group of attractive co-eds? Check. Masked killer with a mysterious motive? Check. Creepy small town filled with locals who don't take kindly to strangers poking their noses into business that doesn't concern them? Check. Topless chicks? Check. Yes, all the familiar tropes are accounted for in Madison County and yet playing in very familiar territory most of the time, England does manage to do a few things to keep things interesting for the viewer.
The film mainly takes place during the day which is unusual for a slasher flick and that definitely adds a bit of a disconcerting feel to the flick. And by keeping the motives mysterious, England maintains an air of aloofness to his character of Damien that makes him a compelling killer to watch as he takes down his victims one by one.
The cast in Madison County is surprisingly likeable and all show promise of talents on the rise; Principe, who is no stranger to playing masked killers, does a good job in the flick although he feels a bit underutilized as a whole (his character would have been made a bigger impression had we seen more of him throughout). And as someone who has a sweet spot for crazy old ladies who like to terrorize the youngsters, I couldn't help but smile any time that Erma (Adrienne Harrell) came on to screen as well.
Madison County isn't without its problems though; the biggest issues being that England's story is on the thin side and the final act of the flick feels a bit rushed and disjointed which leaves you feeling a little underwhelmed before the epilogue starts. There are also some issues on the technical side of things in regards to Madison County- the editing is a bit choppy in places, the gore is way too underplayed (especially for an 'unrated' movie) and the score/music doesn't do the film any justice at all but overall are errors that can be overlooked when taking into consideration England's modest budget for the project.
The DVD presentation by Image is also something that leaves a bit to be desired; the audio mix seemed to fall out here and there and several scenes had a lot of background noise to them which is definitely more of a transfer issue than a filmmaking quality issue because the movie was shot beautifully, showing off the haunting beauty of the Arkansas landscapes. One can only hope that Image may rectify those issues if they decide to ever release the flick on Blu-Ray in the future.
The disc does come loaded with a few bonus features for fans though; there's a very candid commentary track featuring England, Marrero (who also produced) and producer Daniel Dunn as well as a theatrical trailer and video footage from the Q&A after Madison County's screening during the 2011 Screamfest Film Festival.
Overall, Madison County is definitely worth checking out on DVD once it hits shelves everywhere on May 8th; it certainly isn't a game-changing affair or anything but the film should definitely prove to be an enjoyable experience for all the indie horror loving masses out there and makes for a fun little popcorn flick for the slasher film fans as well.
3 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5