August 18th, 2020
MOVIE: RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE
STARRING: JESSE WILLIAMS; JORDANA BREWSTER; JAY BARUCHEL; NIAMH WILSON
DIRECTED BY: JAY BARUCHEL
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
I take no pleasure when I find a horror movie to be lacking in any excitement and sadly Random Acts of Violence is that movie. Based on a graphic novel, director/writer Jay Baruchel (Goon: Last of the Enforcers) understands where to take the story, but fails to add any shock or awe to it. There’s too much going on. It’s a road trip movie, about a comic book writer named Todd (Jesse Williams), along with his supportive girlfriend Kathy (Jordana Brewster), his manager Ezra (Baruchel), and assistant artist Aurora (Niamh Wilson), traveling from Toronto to various comic-book stores, leading to their final stop at New York’s comic-con. Along the way, the group is being followed by a killer, repeating the violence that was depicted in Todd’s “Slasherman” stories. The violence turns up with each stop and Todd must confront the fact that his art is becoming too much of a reality. Random Acts of Violence has the makings of an engaging horror movie and commentary about slasher fans, but instead it’s saying too much and not entertaining enough to care for.
Jesse Williams is the comic-book writer Todd and his character is not unsure of himself in a cute or honest way. Instead he is annoying. Making his character even more insufferable, is the fact that his companions are there to fuel his worst tendencies. Baruchel and co-writer Jesse Chabot attempt to draw sympathy from the other characters by making them the helpless victims of the killer on the trip, but their personalities are wearing to the point where you’re excited to see them go. The few positives that can be wrung out of Random Acts of Violence is when Baruchel cuts in the graphic-novel style animated sequences, recreating the deaths, and showing a bit of flash to the film’s narrative. The other plus is that some of the gore is well done. A sliced throat, a gutted stomach, or splatter of blood is always impressive when done right, but all of that positive is wasted on a lumbering story.
As much as critics were divided on Dave Franco’s The Rental, at least his premise was focused. Random Acts of Violence is trying to say a lot all at once and while fans of the horror genre may be intrigued to see a Scream-like movie, this does not have any of that. At least, that is what I think Baruchel was going for. He wanted Random Acts of Violence to be a meta picture, commenting on the artist and their work being taken too literally by the audience. To achieve success with those themes, I think you need to simplify and care about your characters, which you never do. Everyone here is expendable and even then we are stuck on the journey with them.
Random Acts of Violence attempts to deliver a fresh new take on the cross between the horror genre and the fans that love it; And it fails to distinguish any of that. There’s a stop at a creepy gas station, a dingy old motel, and violent murders on the road. Typically those cliches would work in horror movies, instead they are just boxes checked off, in a lazy attempt to make the audience think it’s speaking to them. The final result is boring and the best choice you could make is to just watch Scream again instead. Nothing random about that.
RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE IS AVAILABLE ON SHUDDER
1 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady