In my review of "Whale Watching Massacre", I mentioned that Tobe Hooper's seminal horror film "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is one of the more imitated films in the genre. You could say the same for something like the "Wrong Turn" series. Since the first one came out in 2003, we've gotten a sway of backwoods horror movies that all seem to follow the same ingredients: Gore, torture, incest, backwoods hillbilly stereotypes, and nothing in the way of originality. That's the formula that "Madison County" and "Bloodlines" go with.
In "County", a group of college kids go to a backwoods town to find the author of a book about a killer known as Damien. Well, the old lady who runs a diner says the author is long gone and that Damien is nothing but a folk tale-but of course, we know that's bullshit, because then there wouldn't be a movie.
I will give "Madison County" this much: Nick Principe (Chromeskull from the "Laid to Rest" movies) does a great job as Damien. While this may be yet another slasher played by this actor, Damien is actually a rather creepy creation, and isn't the near unstoppable killing machine that Chromeskull was-he's a bit more human. I also really liked the score by Igor Nemirovsky, which perfectly fits the movie and even features some "Texas Chainsaw" style musique concrete.
Apart from that, there's nothing to write home about. The rest of the cast is uninteresting, and the whole thing is so paint my numbers that it's more boring than anything else. Speaking of which, the movie's biggest flaw is that it thinks "slow moving" automatically counts as "atmospheric." That sometimes can be the case, but when you know whose going to live and whose going to die, and how the whole thing is going to play out. why should you give a damn.
Slightly better is 2007's "Bloodlines." Here, Billy Bob Hackford (Jason Padgett) is the head of a clan that must clean up there bloodline. How do they do this? By kidnapping unsuspecting women for the purpose of mating-and for the occasional fight to the death with one another. However, two girls they kidnap are a bit tougher than the others-and they've got brothers who are war veterans.
There are things I liked about "Bloodlines." The acting here is better, with Molly Berg in particular standing out as Billy Bob's psycho sis. I also liked the family dynamic between the protagonists, which is something that's usually missing from these kinds of movies. Finally, the direction from Stephen Durham and Henry Kingi Jr. is decent, and I enjoyed the score by Amy Marie Beauchamp and Jose Cancela.
That being said, that doesn't mean I liked it-if anything, I almost liked it. Unfortunately, the make-up effects aren't up to snuff, and the gore effects and kills are nothing you've seen a billion times before. In fact, the exploitation elements in the film feel too muted, as it never really goes as far as it should with such an outrageous premise. Finally, so much of it is so "done before and done better", with the usual tropes (torture, abduction, rape) that you always get from movies like this. It has potential to be different, but it doesn't bother to try.
In the end, I can say that "Bloodlines" is at least worth a rental, as there's a few things going for it that make it worth watching once. "Madison County" on the other hand, just bored me, and is worth tracking down for backwoods slasher junkies only.
Madison County: 3/10