Hicksploitation hasn’t done The South any favors. As far as horror is concerned, In the Hell of Dixie might be the curative, showing that people south of the Mason-Dixon line are more than leering, inbred cousin-f*ckers.
The Lizzie Borden artwork telegraphs supernatural, but this one’s all slasher. That being said, this is quite unlike any slasher you’ll ever see.
For starters, there’s backstory aplenty: a journeyman cop looking for a promotion; a hunting club in a land dispute; an aggravated assault investigation; a kid’s magic act gone horribly awry. That’s a lot to front-end load a slasher with and director Eric F. Adams demands considerable investment before the killer goes about their grisly business, a breath of fresh air in the ammonia swamp of indie horror.
Set in Louisiana, In the Hell of Dixie is mercifully free of bad ragin’ Cajun accents, even if the town sheriff looks like pundit Paul Begala (the smattering of people who still watch CNN, will appreciate that reference). This reviewer has only spent a couple of days down in Louisiana, but for what it’s worth, this feels hella more legit than say, True Blood. The cast is full of locals, not interlopers, dressing and acting the part. And the chili looks damn tasty.
For a no-budget, $30,000 goes a long way here. As DIY film-making goes, In the Hell of Dixie is, of course, rife with problems: there’s buggy sound, spotty performances, corn syrup bloodletting but dammit if it’s not engaging. It’s also too long, and could stand a bit of editing — not the character development mind you — a testament to how successful the table was set.
There’s some nice eye candy here as well, but it feels sincere, rather than bikini bodies coming in from the surf to heighten a body count. The three young guys hooking up with the three pretty town girls is also pretty on-point, even if the big one looks like Larry the Cable Guy’s nephew.
This is a solid ensemble piece, every character getting their due. The practical effects are better than what’s par for the course with comparable budgets. Recommended.
*** (out of 5)