Random Acts of Violence is a horror that promises more than it delivers when it comes to violence and random acts.
Random Acts of Violence (Shudder) comes from Goon 2: Last of the Enforcers director Jay Baruchel, starring him too, along with Cabin in the Woods’ Jesse Williams and The Fast and The Furious star Jordana Brewster, being a comic book adaptation from Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti.
Random Acts of Violence follows a comic book artist Todd (Jesse Williams), his publisher partner Ezra (Jay Baruchel), Todd’s girlfriend Kathy (Jordana Brewster), who has been studying the serial killer the comic book is created around, and Aurora (Niamh Wilson), the assistant and aspiring artist working for Ezra. The four are going on a road trip press tour for the latest edition of the comic, while Kathy wants to use this journey to learn what the small towns think about the real serial killer that was never caught, only for the road trip to get an unwelcome guest, a killer that is using the comic book kills to start a new spree.
Random Acts of Violence brings us a comic book movie with a comic book that is based on a serial killer, with the lead character in the in-film comic being the serial killer, only the author is trying to continue his killing spree, only for them to be dealing with the real killer coming back to emulate the kills in the comic book. Sound confusing? Well yes, it should do. This could be a very interesting concept, because having Kathy wanting to study the true killer could pose more of a question on why the comic is exploiting the killer, rather than learning the truth about them. Away from this, we get a story that starts like a jolly road trip, which is dealing with the problems between the four, before the first killing, which shows us how the comic book has now inspired the killer, turning the tables of the comic artists who were inspired by the killer. The sudden jump does lead us down a road of panic, only we don’t get the smartest decisions being made by the characters, along with the fact the killings happen, we don’t get to see the moments, focusing more on the symbol created with the dead.
Random Acts of Violence uses the cast to play into the actors’ strengths. Jesse Williams plays a tormented artist with ease, showing us how he was haunted by a previous event in his life, the way his character finds inspiration and not willing to back down. Jordana Brewster struggles to escape the Fast family feel with her character; this is because the film seems to forget her side of the story halfway through, forcing her into girlfriend role. Jay Baruchel does have multiple duties on this film: the actor side is bread and butter for him being the best friend; behind the camera, he does get the great shots for shock value, only doesn’t make the story feel as connected as it wants to be.
Random Acts of Violence brings us a horror that relies on shocking us more than showing the incidents, which does create a symbol of what the killer wants to stand for, but a shocking death symbol isn’t as scary as a shocking death. Even the slow preparation could have been disturbing to watch. We can’t take anything away from the special effects team though, as they make each moment look a realistic as it is meant to.
Overall Random Acts of Violence is a film that promises us so much more than it delivers, feeling flatter than it could have been, not as violent as it hints it will be and not as random as the killings seem. We must praise the effects teams and we do get some wonderful looking shots, but nothing feels as connected as it should be.