Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Random Acts of Violence Review: Stylized Horror With Something To Say

 Starring: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel, Niamh Wilson

Release date: August 20, 2020
Running time: 80 minutes
Starring: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel, Niamh Wilson

Comic book creator Todd (Williams), his wife Kathy (Brewster), assistant Aurora (Wilson), and best friend Ezra (Baruchel) all embark upon a road trip from Toronto to New York Comic Con, and bad things start to happen: people start getting killed along the way.  The group notice the scary similarities between the character they created and horrific real-life events.  Is a crazed fan using Todd’s “SLASHERMAN” comic as inspiration for his stylized slaughter?

Starring: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel, Niamh Wilson. Stylish Horror Movie
Directed and co-written by, and starring Jay Baruchel, this movie is a stylish return to the directing seat.  The style is evident right from the start.  The movie has a pronounced color palette that makes sense given that the main character is a comic book artist.  It appears the colors are made to evoke a sense of the comic, especially at night and any time that something violent is about to happen . . randomly.  This style is top notch at times and subtle.  It is not like the movie is cell shaded, it is more that it uses pronounced bold colors and colored lighting to give off a comic book feel.  The colored lighting is especially striking and often times a scene will be saturated with it.  And sometimes there are comic book style pop ups that evoke this feeling as well.  The nice thing about road trip movies is that you get a good variety of characters, and this movie is no different.  Todd is an interesting protagonist, who has created this ultra violent, successful comic book but is slightly repulsed by it.  His wife has a very different interest and also does not spend much time reading over her husband's work.  Aurora originally seems like just his assistant, but is later revealed to have an artistic bent and is desperately trying to prove herself.  And Ezra is more the voice of reason in all of this, being Todd's friend and business partner.

The story of the film has a road trip format.  It starts off relatively slowly with some cryptic messages to explain what is going on.  New revelations occur at each stop, and by the end the movie takes a turn for the extreme.  And the film does have something interesting to say, contrasting Todd's ultraviolent comic with some of the reactions of his fans and those who have actually been affected by his subject matter.  In a society that often loves violent media, Random Acts of Violence wants to explore the effect that media can have on us.  

However, this movie does have some flaws, which potentially stem from the indie nature.  Although most of the film evokes a comic book style without looking like it, there are some scenes that are computer generated with cell shading that are meant to look like 3D comics.  These look nice but do sometimes break immersion because the movement is a little off.  Showing hand drawn comics would have been more to my liking as the computer generated images seemed slow and slightly gimmicky.  Also, the movie seems to use dummies or models occasionally to represent some of the bodies, but these can also look just different enough from the individuals that they are meant to represent.  And the film has a satisfying ending, but the twist itself seems like it needed more basis in the story and to have a great connection between the twist characters.  I was left scratching my head and had to rewatch it a couple of times to make sure that I had heard it correctly.

But those things aside, Random Acts of Violence offers a stylized horror experience with good characters, gruesome effects, and something to say about said random acts.

Watch it.
Starring: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Jay Baruchel, Niamh Wilson. Stylish Horror Movie
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