Monday, November 11, 2013

Madison County (2011)(Minor Spoilers Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, no character deaths, plot twists, or major reveals**

James (Colley Bailey) invites his best friend, Will (Matt Mercer), his girlfriend, Brooke (Joanna Sotomura), and Brooke’s friend, Jenna (Natalie Scheetz) on a road trip. And as a surprise, Brooke’s older brother, Kyle (Ace Marrero) tags along on the trip.

James leads the group to the small town of Madison County to interview a local author. David Randall (Dayton Knoll) wrote Devil In The Woods, a book based on a local serial killer named Damien  Ewell (Nick Principe), and through a series of letters to each other, David granted James a one on one interview for his thesis.

Upon their arrival in Madison County, the group receives a cold reception from the townspeople. Although, the friends receive some hospitality from Erma (Adrienne Harrell), the head waitress at a local diner, after she reveals the location of Randall’s home. But James simple and harmless mission to conduct an interview with Randall for his thesis is sidetracked into a life or death fight of survival, when Damien shows up to hunt and kill each member in the group one by one………

I’ve seen my fair share of horror films over the years, and it never ceases to amaze me how a group of  twenty something city kids or teenagers wander into this little quiet town with a dark secret during a road trip, and they NEVER suspect anything fishy until it’s too late. You know the formula. Kids wander into the little, quiet town, because they’re on a vacation (oddly enough it‘s a vacation to a lake house or cabin 85% of the time), need directions to their final destination, someone has to use the bathroom, or they stop for a quick bite to eat. Then, each member of the group mysteriously disappears one by one, the creepy townspeople are either a. apart of some underground killing network/conspiracy, b. they’re cannibals, or c. they’re helping and/or protecting the local maniac/killer, who‘s a deranged and mentally ill inbred hillbilly.

Unfortunately, Madison County follows this formula step by step, and it’s hard to ignore the frustrating levels of stupidity from the main characters. From the MOMENT the group steps foot in the diner, you can sense something is wrong during a tense moment of eerie silence. All the townspeople in the diner refuse to take their eyes off of James, Will, Brooke, Jenna, and Kyle, and you can’t ignore the looks of disdain. Outside, this lunatic threatens Will with a knife, while promising a gruesome end for the group, but that’s not enough to convince you to leave? Seriously? Randall’s house is empty, there’s no one around. Get. The Hell. Out of there! Are you waiting for a mangled corpse to fall out of the sky, as a foolproof sign to leave Madison County? “Hey guys! A dead body just fell from the sky! I Think we should leave…maybe.” Ugh.

On top of that, you have the stupid, STUPID “Let’s split up!” strategy. It starts with Kyle, who takes the only working vehicle in the group to return to the diner to ask questions? Yeah. Back at the house, for no logical reason at all, James, Will, Jenna, and Brooke split up into teams of two (James and Jenna, Will and Brooke)?

Generic characters? Yep. You’ll see your fair share in Madison County. Will is the insecure nerd, Brooke is the sweet good girl, Jenna is eye candy as the hot blonde, and Kyle’s that one guy in the group, who’s a jerk to everyone, filling the role of your typical buzkill.

Damien Ewell? Eh, sorry, but he’s not intimidating enough. The pig mask and his dirty clothes are a nice touch, but Damien doesn’t have the essential ominous presence. He’s a scrawny guy, and that’s okay for a crony, but the lead antagonist? No…just no. It’s hard to adjust to and fear Damien, when you consider other hulking and towering behemoths in the horror genre (Michael Myers, Jason, etc.). Plus, Damien’s muffled squealing brought a few unintentional laughs out of me.

I don’t understand the unrated tag for Madison County. For an “unrated” horror  film, Madison County is VERY tamed. I’m talking about gore, violence, dialogue, nudity, everything. The scene where Damien shoves a broken baseball bat into Will’s mouth? Yeah, that’s nasty, but Will’s death  isn’t enough to justify an unrated label in a film with mild blood and gore, and one timid topless scene. When I see a box cover with a creepy guy wearing a pig mask, dressed in filthy clothing, and wielding a bloodstained axe with a handful of human hair, I’m going to have big expectations for a repulsive and cringeworthy horror flick. 

The twists at the end? Yeah, they're genuinely shocking, but I can't go with a positive score. Madison County is a frustrating, FRUSTRATING horror film with stupid characters, and you’ll see plenty of “Don’t do that!” moments here. I can picture others having some mindless fun with Madison County as a guilty pleasure, but for me, the sporadic rewards can’t outweigh the mound of mind-numbing horror clich├ęs, a mediocre cast, and an overall so-so story I’ve seen more times than I can count.

Ratings: 3/10

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