MADNESS (2006) – By Jordan Garren

 For those of you that don’t know me, I’m a pretty positive guy, very easygoing, and I’m very easily amused. When it comes to films, I don’t ask for a lot, only that the movie I watch be entertaining. It doesn’t have to be intelligent, it doesn’t have to make me think and reflect on my life, it just has to entertain me, plain and simple. With that said, you’d think that a movie starring a bunch of beautiful women trapped in a house with a psychotic killer would satisfy me, but in the case of William Johns’ MADNESS, you’d be wrong. It pains me to speak negatively about MADNESS as it is Bill’s feature film directorial debut, but this movie is about as exciting as watching grass grow, or paint dry, or… well, you get the idea.

MADNESS is the tale of a troubled young man named Alex. His mother died when he was very young and his father blamed him for her passing. To make matters worse for poor Alex, his old man married an evil wench named Bonnie. During one of the film’s many flashbacks, Bonnie uses her feminine wiles to seduce her stepson (ewww… that’s gross… and yet I find it oddly arousing…), and the two of them start doing the wild thing. The entire situation worsens when Alex’s dad comes home and walks in on the ensuing incest. Alex is chased off by his dad but he returns moments later with a huge knife and murders his emotionally abusive parents, then lies in wait for his sister and her carload of friends. Through the remainder of the film Alex murders his sister and her friends one by one until the last girl, Megan (played by the gorgeous Jami Ross), is left to fend for herself. Will she survive the night and stop Alex’s rampage?! Well, if you keep your eyes on the screen and not on a nearby clock, then you’ll surely find out for yourself.

MADNESS is the first feature film by director William Johns and visually the movie looks great; the camera work is expertly done and the film’s look is very polished. But that isn’t nearly enough to save MADNESS from becoming extremely slow and boring. The movie plods along at an excruciatingly lethargic pace and to make matters worse, the character’s are all amazingly dull and uninteresting. Even the film’s villain, who gets more backstory and character development than anyone else, is as drab as the gorgeous gals he knocks off. (Truthfully, about halfway through the movie I just wanted everyone to die so that the end credits could roll and I could move onto watching something else.) Though I struggled to not turn the film off, I will admit that there were a few scenes that pulled me out of my sleepy daze. The flashback where Alex bangs his smoking hot, red-headed stepmom (played by Shelly Sparks) is by far my favorite scene in the movie!

I laughed hysterically when Alex’s dad (an almost dead-ringer for Bob Vila) walks into the master bedroom, only to see Alex and Bonnie going at it, doggy style! (Admittedly, if my evil horny stepmom looked as good as her, I’d probably have sex with her too. Hahaha!) I also enjoyed the scene where Alex puts a knife through a girl’s hand and through a door. The effect was very well done (a little CGI seems to have been utilized) and briefly rekindled my interest in the movie, but in no time at all, I was once again lulled into a sleepy state of mind. So it’s obvious that I didn’t care much for William Johns’ MADNESS and I feel a pang of guilt in admitting that. I always have high hopes for every movie that arrives in the mail, but it’s always a hit or miss affair when I finally sit down and watch them. As I said earlier, MADNESS is fantastic on a technical level but it fails on several very important levels. For one thing, while the film has a cast of beautiful women (mmm… eye candy), most of them aren’t very experienced (or talented) at acting.

I heard somewhere that the key to acting, when you don’t know how to act, is to speak your dialogue softly and most of the female cast stretches this questionable advice to the limit. (At times I wondered how close they had to hold the boom mic to pick up what everyone was saying.) Another thing that could’ve helped the movie would have been some further editing because the film’s pacing drags mercilessly. The current cut of the film runs at approximately one-hundred and one minutes, but I think the movie would play better if ten to fifteen minutes were shaved off. With all that said, MADNESS is definitely a good start for Bill Johns and I have huge expectations for his future productions. Currently MADNESS isn’t available to purchase, but it will be as soon as Bill finds a company to distribute the film. Until that happens, you can get further information about MADNESS at the film’s official website at www.wheremadnesslies.com. Also be sure to check out the official webpage of Bill Johns’ production company Cinevid Productions, to keep up to date on his current and future projects.