Review: MADISON COUNTY (2011)

That’ll do, pig.


Directed by: Eric England

Stars: Colley Bailey, Matt Mercer, and Natalie Scheetz

MPAA Rating: R





Independent cinema has often been the breeding ground for truly great horror films. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE, and HALLOWEEN, are examples of great horror films with shoestring budgets but loads of creativity and gumption. The independent scene is where novice filmmakers can make their mark and deliver new horror classics. The latest film to come along and try to join those hallowed ranks is MADISON COUNTY. Can it overcome its limitations and deliver a new film that genre fans can embrace?

MADISON COUNTY follows a group of college kids as they travel to the titular locale to interview the author of a tell-all book about a series of horrible murders in the area. They arrive to discover the author is missing, the townspeople are acting strange, and a killer sporting a pig’s head is intent on killing them one by one.

The two words that would most accurately describe this film are generic and amateurish. The story plays out exactly like it has in countless other horror films of this ilk. Whether it’s the kids deciding to go to a small town, the local folk and their reaction to them, or the killer’s methods when stalking them, the movie is constantly presenting the audience with characters and situations that do not have a shred of originality or ingenuity to them. Even taking those clichéd elements into account, the script for the film is still filled with several logic flaws and beginner missteps. For example, there is a character who is heavily involved in the plot and climax of the film. But his actions, motivation, and overall purpose all make very little sense in the grand scheme of things. This is prevalent throughout the movie, too. Most of the actions and setpieces in the film seem to be there simply to be cool instead of them making a lick of sense for the characters or the plot.

In terms of the production itself, it’s actually pretty impressive in places. The direction occasionally veers into shaky-cam territory, which can be annoying. Most of the other scenes, though, are well-shot and well-composed. The quality of the editing is similar. It’s mostly well-done, but there are a handful of scenes that are confusing or puzzling due to shots being left out or shots being put together in a bizarre order. The acting is generally pretty good. No one stands out, but none of them are awful. And considering some of the dialogue they are forced to recite, there are times when the actors should be commended for making it work as well as it does. The special effects are convincing and realistic. They are limited mostly to blood and basic wounds, but none of them come across as fake or bush league.

MADISON COUNTY is an incredibly low-budget production, so some leniency can be given in regards to it’s overall production quality. However, it’s multiple script issues and lack of imagination squander much of the goodwill it earns due to it’s independent nature. It’s a mess of a movie, and it offers nothing new or substantial to horror fans.

MADISON COUNTY is now available on DVD. It cannot be recommended by this critic.

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