Deep in the woods of southern Louisiana, a masked killer stalks members of a local hunting club. As blood trails begin to connect the victims, a police deputy named Ned Annison finds himself caught in the middle, pursued by both the killer and the town sheriff, who believes Ned is the man responsible. Always one step ahead, Ned works to stop the killer and clear his name, only to find that some friendships end in blood. Every town has its secrets. During one terrifying night, Gloster, Louisiana just let its out.
Slow burn and Slasher movies are not usually something that go hand in hand, but this is just what writer/director Eric F. Adams has attempted to with his latest project, In The Hell of Dixie. With a running time of almost 128 minutes, In the Hell of Dixie is anything but your archetypal Slasher, substituting cliche’d opening kill sequences(or anything that resembles horror in fact) for extended and in depth character development. The fact that we don't even get to see any blood until nearly half an hour into the film speaks volumes.
As well as writing and directing Adams also takes the lead acting role in the film, playing police officer Ned Annison, who we see preparing for an upcoming job interview in which he hopes to secure a promotion to the rank of Sergeant. The opening of the movie focusses heavily on this, and Ned’s relationship and interaction with his boss, colleagues and completion for the promotion.
It is during the opening 30 minutes that we also get introduced to a group of hunters, hanging out together at the Pig Ridge Hunting Lodge. A lot of this screen time is used to show the “banter” that goes on between this group of friends.
This is the advantage to having a running time of over 2 hours. Adams had a lot of time to develop the characters we would be watching. And in the whole he did a good job. The dialogue is well written and there is some very important information conveyed in the conversations between characters. Unfortunately though some dodgy audio makes hearing the information difficult.
As we go into the second act, the dark history of the club is slowly revealed and things start to fall into place. It is also around this time when the slasher elements start to come into play and the pace starts to pick up a little, and one by one the hunters have the tables turned on them and become the prey.
One of the big issues, in my opinion, is that despite all the character development, we are not given a hero or heroine to invest in. In fact, although they all seem very human, none of the characters comes across as likeable. Even Ned(the police officer and character i think we are supposed to believe is the hero), is painted as a bad tempered homophobe early on. And because we don't see enough of the killer, we cant even root for her in a Freddy Krueger like anti-hero.
The killer in the film is kept a real mystery. The psycho is a woman who wears a long white dress, wields an axe and dons some sort of mask. The order in which she picks off the hunters is never obvious and keeps the audiences attention.
Unfortunately the films biggest issue is born from its very low budget, and is that we just don't get to see enough. In what i assume is a way of keeping costs down the director uses conversations about the plot, rather than showing us what happened. The Argument in the club that leaves someone in hospital is prime example.
Overall though, this is an ok film that tries to follow in the footsteps of the slasher films of the 80’s(it is even shot using 16mm film). It was obviously a labour of love for director Eric F. Adams, who shot the film over 14 months(they only shot on weekends) using his own money to fund it(believed to be $28,000).All the actors worked for free(knowing thins helps excuse some wooden performances) and he used a crew of only 3 people. Its a crying shame that he couldn't get the pacing right, as if the film was edited better, and cut a good 40 minutes or so out then i feel it would appeal to a lot more people. As it is, i can see many giving up on it before even the first kill.
But if you are patient, like your low budget horror and don't expect anything too polished, the In the Hell of Dixie just may be the slasher for you.