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Random Acts Of Violence Main

Random Acts of Violence Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Shudder


Directed by Jay Baruchel
Written by Jay Baruchel, Jesse Chabot, Jimmy Palmotti (comic), Justin Gray (comic)
2019, 80 minutes, Not Yet rated
Released on 20th August 2020

Jesse Williams as Todd
Jordana Brewster as Kathy
Jay Baruchel as Ezra
Simon Northwood as The Man


Suffering a serious bout of writer's block, comic book man Todd (Jesse Williams) takes to the road to promote his book, Slasherman. Todd might be running low on inspiration, but a fan seems to have gotten plenty of his own from Slasherman. When people start turning up dead – their bodies arranged in gory tableaux of Todd's work – the writer begins to suspect that there might be a copycat on the loose. Reluctant to draw attention to his involvement for fear of reprisal, Todd puts pal Ezra (Jay Baruchel), girlfriend Kathy (Jordana Brewster) and assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson) in the firing line, as the killer begins targeting his friends and loved ones. 

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Based on Jimmy Palmotti and Justin Gray's lurid comic book of the same name, Random Acts of Violence is the mean and nasty feature debut of one Jay Baruchel. Yes, that one. The Tropic Thunder star is no stranger to genre cinema, but this surprisingly straight-faced slasher film is not what we might have expected from the star of How To Train Your Dragon and The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

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As it examines the relationship between media violence and its impact upon reality – telling survivors' stories vs sensationalising the killer – Random Acts of Violence has more on its mind than your average Stalk n' Slash 'em up. If only the film's fictional comic book were as compelling and well-done as it is presented in the original book (thanks, illustrator Giancarlo Caracuzzo) – as it is, this version of Todd seems like a bit of a hack, his book a badly-illustrated piece of crap. It's hard to believe anyone could care enough about this sloppy nonsense to embark on a killing spree of their own, but the film is well-written enough for viewers to be able to buy into the conceit. Baruchel touches on the idea of Todd being a sleazy, closeted mysognist, but the suggestion isn't as overt here as it was in the book.

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What Baruchel does bring to the table is a great colour palette – his comic might look awful, but the film itself is like a Caracuzzo illustration come to life at times. The action too, is shockingly intense, featuring brutal slasher violence and gore so bountiful it puts leading lady Jordana Brewster's Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel to shame. At times, it's reminiscent of 2009's My Bloody Valentine remake, right down to its scary, industrial masked serial killer. The cast Baruchel has assembled isn't one to be sniffed at either. In addition to Williams and Brewster as the film's leads, the writer/director himself pops up as the film's comic relief and more nervous heart. A strong debut feature, and not bad at all for a guy best known as Seth Rogen's pal in This is the End. But then, his other co-star (the underrated Danny McBride) didn't do too badly with 2018's Halloween reboot either.

Random Acts of Violence is frequently obvious but never predictable; methodically paced without becoming boring. While it stumbles over its own heavy-handed subtext and try-hard seriousness, this is a stylish, smart slasher film with thrills and spills in equal measure.


Movie: 4 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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