The casting of Burt Reynolds and Angie Dickinson, something that would have been a major headline act circa 1978, gives The Maddening a certain novelty. Both give totally over-the-top performances as the psycho white trash couple and this gives the film a lurid fascination akin to the way Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were shown in their faded demented glory in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) and a host of imitators.
The director is Danny Huston, son of director John Huston, known for The Maltese Falcon (1941) and The African Queen (1952). Danny had previously directed the little seen Mr North (1988) and Becoming Colette (1991), although is mostly known as an actor with a long line of credits since the 1990s, including some high-profile roles.
Danny lacks much in the way of his fathers directorial skill and The Maddening a fairly trashy film. It operates on a level of crude cliché effects storms and false jumps. The film develops a passably decent story and gains some effect in seeing its various strands and elements starting to play off. There is one good jump twist where Huston suddenly shows that the character of William Hickeys wheelchair-ridden father who has been constantly taunting Reynolds is only a figment of his imagination. There is a cute scene where daughter Kayla Buglewicz makes an escape by playing on Brer Rabbits plea Please dont take me into the woods. In the abused innocent role, the film does have the advantage of featuring the incredibly lovely Mia Sara. On the whole, the film sits just between lurid melodrama and passable suspense with not enough of either to become entertaining. The climactic fight is just over-the-top.
The film was adapted from a novel by Andrew Neiderman, who also wrote the book that became the basis of The Devils Advocate (1997), as well as an entire industry of torrid Gothic potboilers under the pseudonym of V.C. Andrews.
Full film available online here:-