A deranged maniac stalks and kills a group of hunters and their friends in the middle of the woods. Why is this person doing it and how are the victims connected to a tragic accident that took place several years ago in the area? Will Ned, the troubled deputy (who is also a suspect) be able to get to the bottom of things before it’s too late or is he doomed as well?
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a really good slasher flick. Most of the newer ones that have come out over the last ten years or have just been okay at best and seem to just be missing something that makes them awesome. The biggest majority of them just don’t have the same feeling as the old 80’s slashers did and even though some of them try really hard they usually miss their mark for the most part. I went into writer/director Eric F. Adams’ newest film The Hell of Dixie expecting more of the same but was actually pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It definitely has a nice 80’s slasher feel to it and I had a great time watching it. It has a lot of heart and is without a doubt one of the best slasher flicks that I have seen in a very long time.
One of the things that I really dug about this movie is the writing. Adams does a great job of creating some realistic characters and even more realistic dialogue between said characters. As the film opens we see the less than reputable deputy Ned (played by Adams himself) getting passed over for a promotion to sergeant (even though he is a lot more qualified than the person that gets it) and I thought that the scene was very well done. Having been in this situation more times that I can count I really felt Ned’s pain and thought that his feelings and reaction to being told that he didn’t get the position felt very genuine (hell, his nervousness during the interview itself seemed very realistic as well and since I suck at job interviews myself I could really relate to him during this scene).
The group of hunters that appears in the film is very realistic as well. I grew up in a small town and knew a lot of people like these characters. They do a lot of things in the movie that actual people do in real life (such as go out on the town to find a piece of ass, jokingly make fun of each other, etc) and it is obvious that Adams most likely based these characters on people that he knew because they are anything but one dimensional. Adams has a talent for creating believable characters and writing realistic dialogue, something that is sorely lacking with many screenwriters in today’s day and age.
I also liked the premise itself. While it may not be the most original idea in the world it still works and I had a blast with it. I loved the fact that it pretty much has everything needed to make a great slasher flick including characters doing stupid things when it is obvious that something isn’t right, some cool death scenes, a pretty neat-looking killer with an interesting motive, and of course an event that takes place in the past that connects all the characters that involves some sort of tragic accident (this time during a magic show that takes place as a kid’s birthday party). Adams makes sure that he has all of his bases covered in order to put together a convincing slasher flick and the results are pretty impressive to say the least. The film was shot on Super 16 MM film which works because it gives it a sort of cool grainy look that makes it look like it was actually shot back in the 80’s, which in itself is pretty awesome if you ask me.
I thought that the acting was actually pretty good too. Adams is excellent as Ned and while he may not be the most likeable character in the world there was something about him that I dug. I also really liked Tom Bubrig as the sleazy sheriff and enjoyed all the actors who played the redneck hunters as they all did a great job of bringing their respective character to life (like I said earlier, growing up I actually knew people like them). Even though they don’t get a great deal of screen time Emilia Graves and Jaci Lejeune are good as a couple of chicks that some of the hunters pick up and take back to the cabin to have sex with (plus they were both easy on the eyes). While none of the people in the movie are going to win an Oscar for their performances here they still all do a very good job and were a lot better than I ever expected them to be. Some are a little better than others but I wouldn’t say that anyone’s performance was terrible.
While I dug the movie it isn’t without its problems. The biggest one is that it runs just a little too long and I think some viewers will have a problem with that fact. It clocks in at well over two hours and while there is usually something going on there are moments where things do tend to drag a bit. I think that some of the scenes could have been trimmed down or even taken out completely so that the film was a little shorter and flowed a tad bit better. Even though I liked the characters I couldn’t help but feel like there were too many of them. Some of the hunters are pretty much interchangeable and I think that they could have been left out of the film entirely to be honest. These issues didn’t come close to ruining the film for me by any stretch of the imagination but I could see how it might turn some viewers-especially those with short attention spans (which usually includes me) and little patience.
In the Hell of Dixie is an awesome film and I am glad that I got to see it because it is everything that a great slasher should be. It was shot in 14 months (with filming taking place primarily on weekends and whenever everyone could get together) with a very modest budget but is better than most of the big budget horror films with so-called major celebrities that have been crapped out by Hollywood in recent years (I love the fact that they used practical effects as well as they look so much better than any CGI effects). If you are a fan of great slasher flicks from the 80’s you owe it to yourself to check this movie out as soon as you can. Believe me when I say that you are in for a great time.