Image Entertainment // 2011 // 82 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Patrick Bromley // May 11th, 2012
You're not welcome here.
Stop me if you've heard this one: a group of young people travel to a remote mountain town to do some research on a series of murders. The backwoods townspeople don't react well to their "city ways." The young people go off into the woods. A man in a pig mask begins brutally killing them one by one. Credits.
It's every horror movie you've ever seen right? Yes. That includes Madison County, the 2011 slasher from writer/director Eric England. There isn't a moment in the movie doesn't feel completely by-the-numbers, from the ignored warnings and seemingly sweet old lady, to the masked axe murderer. From the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre forward, this same movie has been made over and over and over again. Madison County is competent but utterly uninspired; even the "unrated" tag carried by the DVD doesn't amount to much. Horror aficionados looking for lots of red stuff will probably be disappointed, and without even that to distinguish it, there's nothing about Madison County to make it stand out in the crowded horror marketplace.
The visuals on Madison County are natural and more than acceptable. While the standard definition 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen image shows a good deal of softness and often seems washed out, I suspect both are the result of the low-budget source and not necessarily transfer issues. The audio is more problematic. The Dolby 5.1 track has the dialogue mixed way down in relation to the music and sound effects, forcing the viewer to reach for the volume control during all of the quieter talking scenes and then scramble to turn it down every time things get intense. English subtitles might have helped matters, but there are none to be found.
In terms of bonus features, writer/director Eric England, producer Daniel Dunn, and star Ace Merrero sit down for a standard commentary track, discussing the production and offering some trivia. We also get a Q&A with the cast and crew recorded at 2011 Screamfest.
I don't know what else to say about Madison County. It's well-executed, especially considering its low budget. The actors all do a fine job. There is a kind of brutality to the whole affair to which fans of this kind of horror movie will respond. If it had aspired to be just a little different from the dozens of other movies like it, maybe this would be worth recommending. As it is, the whole thing feels so completely familiar there's no reason to see it -- especially when there are so many better versions of the same material. In a world where The Texas Chainsaw Massacre exists, do we really need Madison County?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated
* Official Site