Director: Jay Baruchel
Cast: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel
Release Date: August 20, 2020 (Shudder)
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6.5/10
What are the real consequences when life begins to imitate art? Comic book creator Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams), his wife Kathy (Jordana Brewster), assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson) and best friend, Hard Calibre Comics owner Ezra (Baruchel), embark upon a road trip from Toronto to New York Comic Con and bad things start to happen. People start getting killed.
It soon becomes clear that a crazed fan is using Todd’s “SLASHERMAN” comic as inspiration for the killings and as the bodies pile up, and Todd’s friends and family become victims themselves, Todd will be forced to take artistic responsibility.
Based upon the comic of the same name, ‘Random Acts of Violence’ accompanies comic book creator Todd (Williams) who along with his wife Kathy (Brewster), best friend Ezra (Baruchel) and assistant Aurora (Wilson) head out on a road trip into the states to promote his graphic comic ‘Slasherman’ while simultaneously trying to find motivation for a proper ending to the series after being plagued with writer’s block. But his hope for motivation comes barreling into their lives in the worst way possible when a chain of random murders that eerily replicate those he created in his comic begin plaguing the group. Is there a connection or is just a coincidence and can they survive the trip once things get deadly?
Directed by Jay Baruchel (Goon: Last of the Enforcers) from a screenplay he additionally co-wrote with Jesse Chabot (Goon: Last of the Enforcers) and based upon the comic of the same name by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray respectively, Baruchel does a great job altogether at the helm of ‘Random Acts of Violence’ guiding along the violent fun with a perfectly suited style and overwhelming colors paired with the brutal violence to make a clever hybrid of a slasher-comic film that always looks appealing in its presentation. The film also benefits from a capable cast that includes Jesse Williams (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy), Jordana Brewster (Fast & Furious), Jay Baruchel (This is the End), Niamh Wilson (Saw III) and more, with the majority offering solid performances for the most part in each of their respective roles.
‘Random Acts of Violence’ offers a clever premise that’s played out in a quite stylish and unique manner, often utilizing bright, vivid colors and even a few animated moments sprinkled throughout that really allow the film to feel like a comic book come to life. While at the same time serving up a notably brutal slasher flick filled with violent deaths that don’t pull their punches. Merging both together with an almost road trip buddy film in its own right and for a good chunk of the film this plays out quite nicely and contributes a bit of humor to the gruesome violence and chaos on display as our foursome of friends try to stay alive long enough to figure out what’s really going on here. Especially once the similarities become constant enough to begin erasing doubts of mere coincidence between the grisly deaths our key lead has created in his comics and the identical manner in which this unknown killer is displaying his demented work.
Things definitely get off on the right foot for the most part and much of the film is a beautiful, tense and at times even jaw dropping mystery with enough bloody kills to please the diehard genre fans out there. Unfortunately it begins to lose its steam as it starts to wrap things up for the climax which seems unnecessarily rushed and jumbled, not to mention making some story elements and connections even more confusing in some regards. It doesn’t entirely fall flat in its conclusion, but one can’t help but feel that it aims more for a blood drenched climax that’s more worried about achieving shock value than an ending worthy of how great the film played out for much of its duration beforehand. Although even if it does have its issues, it’s still one that horror fans will probably want to make a point of checking out and the stylish approach and crazy kills alone make for a thoroughly enjoyable ride worth taking.
Overall, ‘Random Acts of Violence’ is definitely worth giving a chance. It’s a fun, gory and intense ride with its share of laughs along the way, as well as some twists and turns. It kicks off rather impressively and finds a clever middle ground of making it simultaneously work as a brutal slasher and a comic book movie complete with warm, bright colors and even some animation. It continues along admirably enough through most of its duration while serving up some brutal kills and showdowns but loses much of its steam in the uneven climax where things have trouble balancing out in a way that fits the rest of the film. The dedication of Baruchel’s work as director (among various other duties) is no less impressive for many the film’s faults though as he does a fantastic job of making this look gorgeous and quite unlike your typical horror film; showcasing some unique talent in his filmmaking abilities that definitely has me excited to see what he might try his hand at next.