Saturday, May 12, 2012

Welcome to Madison County: The Good, The Bad and the Pretty Shots

As I type this blog, I’m 35,000 feet in the air on my way back home to LA. I’ve been in Arkansas for the last few days for a little R&R before getting back to work (more on that in a bit) and to see Madison County come into the World in my hometown.

A lot of crazy stuff has happened in the last 48 hours. The release of Madison County brought upon many emotions, not only from my fellow filmmakers, and myself, but from the people that watched the movie.
Now, I know there are tons of internet trolls out there. Many of them I imagine to be similar in size and stature to the infamous Jack Klassen. (If I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned his name and Madison County to me, I’d probably be flying privately back home).

But I knew having a movie come out would mean opening yourself up as a target. I’m okay with that. I’m a filmmaker and I stand by my work.. but what I didn’t realize was how much I would LEARN about the audiences that watch films.. specifically the horror genre.
Genre fans are some of the most devoted and passionate. How do I know? I’m one of them. Ask me about almost any horror film and I’ve probably seen it.. or heard of it. Or I haven't, I want to. I was raised on horror films. Madison County is an obvious testament to that. A lot of reviewers picked up on it. It’s amazing to see that passion for horror shine through in a fan. It’s magical almost. Horror fans getting behind something is like seeing a sports fan rooting for their favorite team.. but that door swings both ways.
Horror fans can also be the most critical, cynical and asshole-ish people on the face of God’s green Earth.. and they don’t care. How do I know? I’ve witnessed it. Way before Madison County was ever made.
As a horror fan, I’ve learned to accept things I cannot change or do not like. Art is subjective and while I don’t like certain films or filmmakers, I have learned to accept or appreciate them. Never have I gotten online and written a scathing review. That’s not the kind of horror fan I am.. nor the kind that I made Madison County for.
The people I made Madison County for are the people that appreciate films like Madison County. I grew up loving Deliverance, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, etc.. which is what motivated me to make my own “breed” of that particular film. But when Madison County entered into the world yesterday, people began to say how unoriginal, disrespectful, yadda yadda Madison County was.. They weren’t the first.. Internet trolls, ridiculously negative reviews.. how original ;)
(Disclaimer – I’m not referring to negative reviews in general.. I’m specifically talking about the reviews that go beyond OPINION and preach their thoughts as fact)
I even read one critic say I was ripping off THE HILLS RUN RED (which Dave Parker is a friend of mine) and that’s when it hit me.. These fans are not my people. Not my audience. They don’t realize that they’re bitching for bitching sake. They forget that Wrong Turn is a total riff on Deliverance and all the "backwoods" films that came before it. Or that The Hills Run Red got it’s title from The Hills Have Eyes. They were probably bitching about those exact same things when those films were coming out.. but now they’ve found something NEW to bitch about and those previously mentioned films are now “classics”. Which, to be fair.. The Hills Run Red and Wrong Turn are both amazing films, but neither have rocked the foundation of horror. The Wrong Turn "franchise" is just a sequel whore for exploiting straight to DVD horror audiences.

I read threats, hate and just all kinds of garbage about how I should have been aborted.. I’m a talentless hack, I’m unoriginal, I’ll never work again.. all that stuff. All in the first day.
To bring up such hatred was amazing to me. The only consolation I got from any of the negative reviews was “the shots were good”. They liked my directing… well, some did. And they liked my DP.. because the “shots were pretty”.
I’m saying all of this in this blog because I just want to let it be known that I’m absolutely fine with everything negative that was said.. why? Because Madison County was (1), watched.. and (2), evoked emotion. That’s all we ever wanted to do. Do you know how much I HATED Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2? It crushed my soul.. I was so hurt as a horror fan.. yet, I still own the DVD. Why? Because I support filmmakers I like. Because I APPRECIATE art. I enjoyed the aesthetic. Even though I hated the film, I supported the genre. Remakes aside (they’re never going away), I didn’t want to be negative. The film evoked an emotional response from me.. and for that, I was grateful.
I can list thousands of films that I’ve watched and didn’t care to tell anyone about, whether I loved it or hated it. That’s not the kind of film I want to watch or make.. I want something to light inside of me.. good, or bad. To me, everyone that wrote a ridiculously scathing review (hurling insults and refusing to even give it a rating) of Madison County is nothing more than a Jack Klassen to me.. standing on a soapbox looking for an audience, hoping that someone will give them a reason to exist.

I’ve read several reviews from critics I really respect (I’m actually surprised at how the official critics have enjoyed the film) that have GOTTEN what Madison County was about.. the little details. The flavor. We set out to make a meal that was something you had seen before.. but tasted a little differently. Had NO ONE ever brought up anything that was in my mind when I set out to make this movie (the weird tone, the unanswered questions, the tiny details that are peppered throughout the film), I would be singing a different tune. But these are all things that were a conscious effort. The people saying I ran out of time, money, ideas, etc.. or that I didn’t know what I was doing? You’re all full of shit. I knew EXACTLY what I was doing.. you just didn’t like it. That’s called an OPINION and you should learn how to express it more appropriately. Your “matter-of-fact” way of presenting your opinion is greatly hindering your reputation as a person.
(Check out some of the positive reviews for Madison County Below!)
To the rest of you.. that ENJOYED the movie (and so far, from what I’ve seen.. there are more of you than the others ), welcome to the family. Welcome to Madison County. We made this movie for you and I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did making it.
You probably noticed questions left unanswered, and that was intentional I have plans for Damien and the people around him. And if you enjoyed the movie.. hopefully you’re happy about that.
I got such an amazing out-pour of support for the film May 8th.. it was staggering. Messages, e-mails, phone calls, texts, etc.. all from people that loved what we did. A lot of them, people I’ve never met. Most of them, people I may never meet. Just people that saw the movie, tweeted, posted or whatever about the film. For those people, I am grateful. You make it all worth it. You outweigh the negative people. You owe me nothing and you’ve given me the most valuable thing in the world.. happiness. For that, I am forever in your debt.
At the end of the day, I was just a 22 year old kid wanting to get a movie made. Madison County was the beginning of a long journey that has been the most amazing and crazy experience of my life.
When I touch down in LA, I will begin a whirlwind of post-production on my follow-up film to Madison, ROADSIDE, and shooting on my upcoming feature film, CONTRACTED. 

These next couple of movies are so dear to me. Each film is like your child.. and you can’t pick just one favorite. If you didn’t think Madison County had enough thrills or suspense.. check out Roadside. There are plenty. Not enough gore? Check out Contracted.. tons. All I want to do as a filmmaker is grow. Get better. Work on my craft. Madison County was just me testing the waters. Did I play it safe? Yeah.. a little bit. Can you blame me? I had never seen an amount of money as big as our budget before and I was in charge of taking care of that money. There’s a lot of pressure in that director’s chair.

The cast for Contracted was just announced I’m so excited to work with them, it’s ridiculous.We've got some amazing people joining us, some old alumni from my previous films and some new faces that you're going to want to watch for! I'm also very honored to be working with the lovely CAROLINE WILLIAMS, of Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 fame!

Caroline accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at SITGES!
These people are made up of actors that are my closest personal friends, people I’ve wanted to work with for a while, people I’ve worked with in the past and people I can’t wait to work with in the future. This is one of the most amazing casts I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to get them on camera. This film is going to be so insane, I can’t wait to share it with you all.
For now, I’m going to try and get some sleep on this long flight home. Tomorrow morning, I begin shooting my 3rd feature film.. and my first movie just came out 4 days ago. So in a lot of ways, Madison County is already a success. It’s already won. Fuck the negative reviews.. Fuck the haters. They’re always going to be there.


  1. Congratulations Eric.I brought the movie "Madison County" and it was so good.Looking forward to your next film.Congratulations and Go get them!!

  2. I wouldn't waste 2 secs' on thinking about all of the haters/critics/trolls whatever. They will always find something to be cranky about. Thanks for posting my review.


  3. All but two of the review links above are either dead or incorrect.

    I am somebody who does fall into the camp of not enjoying the film as much as I wanted to. And believe me, I really did want to. The poster was seriously fantastic (and whoever did that - let them do all of your film posters from now on) and you had a charming cast with a couple stand-out performances, one of whom actually was able to reveal more character depth as the film went along.

    There were many fantastic shots and with what limited budget you had I'm sure, you rarely let it show on screen. My personal problem was with the story most of all and some of the direction. Frankly if you are leading with a script like that that falls apart towards the end after a great build-up, I think that may be where some of the direction itself gets into trouble, but with so many factors that come into play behind the scenes, there could be other reasons as well.

    Sadly when a film ends as poorly as I felt Madison Creek did, it can change the perception of the entire film. I really did go from "hey this isn't a bad film" to "oh, this is terrible - and not the good kind of terrible."

    But hear me out on this...

    I know you don't seem to be getting a lot of replies in your blog here - and this could be because of the age of Facebook we live in where few people venture out - but even if people go beyond attacking the film and get into personal territory, it's never a good idea to lash out at a group of fans just because they don't like your work. This is no disrespect to you at all, but everything I read above comes off just a tad less poorly than that silly review link.

    Yes, you have engaged me. I actually searched for other reviews to see if there was something I missed and yes I did find some of the reviews you are talking about. I also found other reviews not linked above that found more clever ways to speak about obvious issues in the film. Overall I found that I wasn't alone in my own thoughts of the film AND that writers also saw some of the same good qualities earlier in the film that made the last parts of the film so frustrating.

    In the end...take it all in. Learn from it. Don't spend time lashing out at people even when they get personal because even the greatest directors get horrible reviews and we don't see them 'whining' all the time about it...well, except George Lucas. As a director, every bad review is a good review as it's your chance to see a perspective from the outside.

    I am a potential fan who sees potential in your work. I am not a fan yet, but I am ready to fully enjoy your next film.

    WOW me. :)