Russ Washington (played by the film’s writer/director Hunter G. Williams) is a successful dude who has it all… including a truly fucked-up dark side that often causes him to be balls deep in sex and drugs, and not in the fun way… plus he’s a prize-winning dick on top of it.
All of this begins having a major effect on his relationships and ability to function within the web of lies he’s spun and he soon begins a downward spiral that leads him to the titular “madness within”. Will Russ get his shit together, or will these personal demons lead him further into his psychotic ways?
The Madness Within has some major things going in it’s favor. Firstly, triple threat Williams is a solid and engaging actor that gets you to actually care about Russ, no matter how deplorable his actions become… and that’s no small feat!
Speaking of Williams, the dude knows how to make a shot, that’s for sure. The film takes place in Hollywood, and L.A. is presented in a bubblegum glitz way that is as beautiful as it is superficial. This of course contrasts nicely with the pitch-black story elements on display, and it’s that dichotomy that is the film’s greatest strength. Ya get your light, your dark… a real chiaroscuro affair tonally (yeah baby, college degree to the rescue for your’s cruelly)!
Also of note are the film’s soundtrack, which creates a rhythmic heartbeat that is as much L.A.’s as it is Russ’ own.
On the downside, the film does have some technical gaffes that work against it’s overall polished presentation such as some audio issues, and if I see that mother fuckin’ Universal City logo establishing shot one more time…
Bottom line, The Madness Within is a great story of despair and of a chance at redemption all told in the amazingly false facade of L.A. and the movie biz; and if you dig on flicks like American Psycho and Less Than Zero, you’ll definitely get off on this one!