MTV // 2010 // 79 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jon Mercer (Retired) // July 29th, 2011
Senior Year is Murder.
Do you like horror movies? C'mon, of course you do, who doesn't like a good scare? Feeling your heart jump, or that unsettling cold shiver as it spiders its way up your spine. Too bad you're not going to get any of that from MTV's Savage County. In fact, the only feeling this plate of dry white toast will be invoking is apathy as deep as the Marianas Trench.
It's the closing days at Texas high school, and a clique of students as inexplicably eclectic as they are Californian seek one last weekend of free-spirited fun before they move on to bigger cities and brighter futures. But there's no room in this Made-For-TV snooze fest's paltry budget for any real debauchery, so these kiddies will have to settle for an afternoon at the old swimming hole and a game of Ding Dong Ditch (or Ring and Run, depending on your geographical persuasion). One unfortunate, fatal encounter with an apparently heat-stroked and shotgun totting hillbilly (is there any other kind?) later, and instead of partying, they'll be spending Saturday night dealing with his murderous kin. And believe you me city slicker, they's bringing every cliché birthed by the likes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.
There's a motley collection of flaws and failings that ultimately contribute to Savage County's marathon of mediocrity. It's filled with laughable performances from all involved, and the screenplay is riddled with dreadfully flat lines about CSI, Google, and convicted criminals in the NFL. While it's apparent that debuting director David Harris has a soft spot for gore and tension, all he brings to the game is a collection of "been there, seen that" tropes. The plot twists and meanders along, running the psycho redneck slasher playbook step by step. Now I'm not one to judge a horror movie for lacking originality, but Savage County has absolutely zilch to offer. The only part of its eighty minute runtime that doesn't feel like a shameless copy is probably the end credits. The main killer, an obese take on Leatherface even wears a mask that is one part Texas Chainsaw and one part Phantom of the Opera. One of the biggest laughs for me was watching the face piece peeling away and affixing again to the actor in between camera cuts. Worst of all, none of it even registers on the scare-o-meter. Having originally been filmed as a web series and then shown on TV, this one is predictably short on blood. There are quick flashes of runny crimson, but nowhere near enough to generate any shock. On the other end of the horror spectrum, it fails just as spectacularly. When it comes to ratcheting up the tension, the deranged Hardell family are about as limp as linguini.
If Savage County is any indicator of product quality, MTV New Media might be in a spot of trouble. The 1:78.1 transfer was soft and filled with flaws. This is not helped by the jittery edits and grainy transitions. I might seem harsh, given the feature's less than quarter million dollar budget, but frankly it is undeserving of mercy. There's an adequate 2.0 stereo mix, though background music did sound a little muffled. Savage County's sole extra was the film's trailer.
You're kidding me? The only thing scary about Savage County is the fact that some poor soul has probably spent actual money to see it. I can only hope this review may spare others that grisly fate.
Ah, shucks Clem. D'ya have ta ask?
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated