Madness (2012)

DECEMBER 26, 2012


Sometimes I wonder if I should have created a category called "Repulsive", because some movies like Madness are just as terrible and shoddy as the others in the list, but will probably be enjoyed immensely by sociopaths and the non-discerning, not to mention those goons who equate the amount of violence with the quality of their horror film. Well, 2 minutes into Madness, a man stomps on a woman's stomach so hard that blood and who knows what else comes shooting out from between her legs, which is followed by a credits sequence where we watch a poor little mouse run around before he gets stomped to death as well. Enjoy!

Sadly that's about as novel as the movie gets, which otherwise follows the route of Texas Chainsaw, Wrong Turn, etc. without the bonus of such nutty concepts like "an actual storyline", "characters to care about or even like", or "the slightest goddamn point". Now, Wrong Turn is actually a good example of how to do this sort of thing - the filmmakers were trying to make that sort of movie, which had been dormant for a long time, and did so with some style, a decent trio of villains, a good cast (Jeremy Sisto!), and a genuine understanding of what made those earlier movies work. The guys behind this offer none of those things, and make it even worse than most by inexplicably trying to pass of Sweden for "outside Minneapolis".

This one really puzzled me. The villains speak Swedish (even though they're supposed to be backwoods Americans), at least for the most part - they occasionally speak English too. But the hero characters are all speaking very stiff, heavily accented English at all times, making me momentarily wonder if this was a parody of some sort, when one asks another where he's from and he says "Minneapolis", which is about as believable as any Van Damme or Schwarzenegger character trying to be passed off as an American. Except even less so, because at least they're engaging performers and we can accept this bit as part of the fun, whereas this is a movie where that character will later be raped by one of the hillbilly mutants and then weep for a minute (though the actual rape has been excised from this print, making me wonder why the censors didn't just cut the entire movie out). Fun does not seem to be on anyone's mind here.

And even that would be fine if they had something to say or even the slightest semblance of a story, but there's none. The number of killers is equal to the number of heroes, which seems to provide nothing but an excuse to keep the face-offs coming every few minutes, reducing the need for things like dialogue or a plot that went beyond "Kids are killed by mutant hillbillies". In Chainsaw they wanted meat - what do these guys want? They don't eat them - one girl is even brought down to the river, chained to a stone, and drowned - why? It's not even a trespassing issue like some of the others - they go out of their way to get the kids and bring them to their area. There's absolutely no interior logic or point to any of it, even by the low standards of Texas Chainsaw wannabes. For a moment I considered that the guy getting raped was a sort of mean-spirited irony, since the only reason he got involved with the female characters was because he wanted to get laid, but the rest of the movie effectively counters that idea, as it's loaded with evidence that the filmmakers weren't really thinking that much about anything.

Normally I'd use this space to point out the movie's few strong points, like the practical gore and surprisingly not-too-grim ending (meaning two characters actually survive), but then I remembered that there's a post credits scene where a surviving hillbilly uses a sniper rifle to gun down a child and her mother when they stop for gas. So, no. It doesn't deserve any sort of counterpoint. This is the reason the horror genre will always find it difficult to be respected, and my life is poorer for having watched it. But then again, it's my own fault for watching the whole thing when it started off with this title card:


What say you?


  1. Sad that it seems like all Swedish slashers suck.

  2. Good review. I'll make sure not to waste my time on this flick. I was having a similar conversation the other day about how my favorite genre unfortunately contains a sect of audience & filmmaker I find abhorrent. No redeeming value in films like these.


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