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Two Horror Movies from eOne Films

Madison County (May 21/12)

Hopelessly generic from start to finish, Madison County follows five friends (Ace Marrero's Kyle, Colley Bailey's James, Natalie Scheetz's Jenna, Matt Mercer's Will, and Joanna Sotomura's Brooke) as they head into the woods to find the reclusive author of a book about an infamous (and local) serial killer - with the movie subsequently detailing the protagonists' inevitable efforts at escaping from the clutches of a fearsome, pig-masked maniac. It's a decidedly familiar premise that's utilized to consistently underwhelming effect by director Eric England, with the movie's less-than-engrossing atmosphere compounded by lackluster performances and an almost oppressively deliberate pace. (It's ultimately the latter that cements the movie's downfall, as it becomes more and more difficult not to wish that England would just get on with it already.) And although the filmmaker has peppered the proceedings with irresistibly compelling bursts of style (eg a blurry figure haunts the background of a few shots), Madison County's pervasively by-the-numbers vibe ultimately renders its positive attributes moot - although, by that same token, it's impossible to deny the effectiveness of the movie's scant kill sequences. England's refusal to answer several key questions, including the fates of two pivotal characters, confirms Madison County's place as a disappointingly misguided endeavor, which is a shame, really, given the potential of the film's admittedly routine setup.

out of

[REC] 3: Genesis (October 21/12)

It's impossible to walk away from [REC] 3: Genesis without feeling a tremendous sense of disappointment, as the film's two predecessors, 2007's [REC] and 2009's [REC] 2, remain among the best entries in the notoriously underwhelming found-footage genre - with the movie's almost passable yet consistently conventional atmosphere ensuring that it does, for the most part, play like a hopelessly run-of-the-mill zombie flick (which is, obviously, the last thing one would've said about either part one or part two). The narrative, which transpires concurrently to the events of [REC], details the chaos that ensues at a wedding after an infected guest spreads the franchise's zombie plague, with the emphasis placed on the bride (Leticia Dolera's Clara) and groom's (Diego Martín's Koldo) continuing efforts at both surviving and reuniting. It's interesting to note that despite the handheld bent of its opening 20 minutes, [REC] 3: Genesis has predominantly been equipped with a conventional third-person perspective by filmmaker Paco Plaza - with this radical departure from the series' modus operandi ultimately playing a fairly substantial role in the movie's failure (ie there's a lack of tension and creepiness here that is, to put it mildly, distressing). The movie's bland vibe is compounded (and perpetuated) by its proliferation of one-dimensional, less-than-captivating characters, with Dolera's Clara the only figure within the proceedings that manages to make anything resembling a positive impact. (This may, admittedly, have something to do with her chainsaw-wielding antics around the film's midway point.) And although Plaza has infused the movie with a number of appreciatively brutal kill sequences (including a novel moment involving an immersion blender), [REC] 3: Genesis ultimately comes off as a garden-variety zombie movie that boasts few attributes designed to separate it from its legion of competitors.

out of

About the DVDs: Both films arrive on DVD courtesy of eOne Films, armed with sharp transfers and a smattering of bonus features.
© David Nusair