In 2017, Jay Baruchel made his feature directorial debut with Goon: Last of the Enforcers, a sequel to the Michael Dowse helmed Goon, which he co-wrote with Evan Goldberg. The response to his film was that it didn’t sway too much from the original – which makes for an enjoyable sequel but doesn’t try to fix some of the things that critics didn’t enjoy in the first film, such as it’s violence at the scale it had. And it seems that Jay doubled down (or even quadrupled) on the violence for his horror film. And it makes for a great and grimey horror.
Random Acts of Violence is based on a graphic novel one-shot with the same name that was released in 2010. The original graphic novel follows Todd (Jesse Williams) and Ezra (Jay Baruchel) finally have success with a comic book called Slasherman. As the comic becomes famous, the success bleeds out of the book and into their reality. Back to our reality, in 2011, there was a kickstarter to make a feature film adaptation of the graphic novel. The film took a long process to be made. At one point, Bobby Shore almost was the cinematographer (The Inivitation, Bang Bang Baby) and Matthew Good (a Canadian legend, at least in my house) almost did the score. Instead of those good choices, Jay worked with Karim Hussain (Hobo With a Shotgun, We Are Still Here, Antiviral) and Wade MacNeil (of Alexisonfire, another Canadian legend in my house) and Andrew Gordon Macpherson (previously composed Far Cry 5) who wore multiple hats as also the editor of the film. Wade and Andrew’s score is so metal, and Karim’s style are definitely the right choices for this film. While not every part of the film treads the grindhouse genre, the kills and brutality definitely belong there. And if we’re being honest, that’s why we’re all here.
The trailer tries to prepare you for a lot of gory deaths. And there is, but the body count is small, but you feel each death. Maybe not as a character, but as it’s extremity’s are taken out of the pages of Todd’s Slasherman comics.
I think the film hints at a very interesting theme – what it means for the creator or artist whose mind is so fascinted by the macabre, but it’s not interested in discussing or analyzing it any further than that. And it doesn’t even tackle the ideas of copycat’s and being influenced by art. As much as I dislike the arguement that watching or playing games could encourage violence, I think when your film or story involves a cause and effect that equals to a serial killer being active, it should be a topic of conversation.
Wade MacNeil also has a great scene in the film as a radio host to interview Todd. For those unaware, he was a host for 102.1 The Edge in Toronto, so he was perfectly prepared for the role. On top of them, the cast also includes Jordana Brewster and Niamh Wilson who plays Todd’s girlfriend, and assistant respectively.
The film keeps you guessing long enough and as fans of the genre, you’re anticipating the next death. And we don’t really get many moments with the killer, so even though the deaths are brutal, it never reaches the “torture porn” level.
As I already said, Random Acts of Violence is bloody and great. I personally wished it brought a bit more depth about truama, or creators who use trauma and transform it into art. And how that can be therapeutic for the artist and the fans. Instead, we are left with a bloody good time that makes you want just a bit more.
Random Acts of Violence will be released in theatres and VOD on July 31st in Canada.
And on Shudder in the US on August 20th.