If I was Jay Baruchel, I don’t know if I would’ve followed up my breakout directorial effort in Goon: Last of the Enforcers with a typical horror film like Random Acts of Violence.
In the sequel to 2011’s Goon, Baruchel exhibited impressive leadership by making a satisfying and interesting follow-up to a popular movie without losing any of the original personality or momentum. Random Acts of Violence is a decent slasher film, delivering gruesome kills and practical effects that will make your jaw drop, but it’s so typical that we wonder why Baruchel isn’t challenging himself more.
Baruchel also co-stars alongside Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, and Niamh Wilson. The actors play characters on a road trip, promoting the release of a new comic book in the Slasherman series. Williams plays Todd Walkley, the creative mind behind Slasherman who has based the comic on a real serial killer. As much as Walkley would like to celebrate his latest project (which could possibly be the finale to the controversial series), he’s becoming burnt out on the character because he’s more aware of the repercussions of using tragic reality for creative, lucrative purposes. An awareness that continues to grow with each piece of criticism (a defensive radio interview featuring a great cameo by Alexisonfire’s Wade MacNeil is a standout), and each moment of worship by fans who continue to be enticed by this morbid comic. However, while Todd and his friends are on the road, an ominous killer resembling Slasherman follows their moves; baiting them with obscure clues that lead to grisly reenactments of key deaths from Walkley’s writing.
Baruchel (who also wrote the screenplay with Jesse Chabot) seems like he wants to acknowledge the popular trends of true crime and the bizarre obsessions that are linked to the subject matter, but this discussion isn’t present enough in Random Acts of Violence compared to the film’s wild visuals and scares. It reminded me of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, where the intent of the film is more about providing nightmare fuel than fuel for thought. This won’t be a problem for movie goers looking for their next late-night screamer, but it may be a so-so shrug for those who feel teased by the more evolved film Random Acts of Violence could’ve been.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie