Wednesday, September 1, 2021

RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE (2019) (Acorn Media International Blu-ray Review)


Label: Acorn Media International
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Cert. 18
Duration: 80 Minutes
Audio: Uncompressed English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.38:1) 
Director: Jay Baruchel
Cast: Jesse Williams, Jordana Brewster, Niamh Wilson, Jay Baruchel

Actor turned writer/director Jay Baruchel writes, directs and co-stars in the slasher film Random Acts of Violence (2019), based on the same-titled graphic novel by Jimmy Palmetto and Justin Gray. In it a comic book writer named Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams, Cabin in the Woods) is the creator of a popular horror comic titled 'Slasherman'. It's a violent and gory comic that makes an anti-hero of the fictitious I-90 serial killer, who back in the 80's and early 90's murdered dozens of victims along a stretch of highway. The brutal killer was never caught but his kill-spree seemingly came to an in the 90's. As we catch up with Todd he is struggling to write his final issue of the series, wanting for it to end with a bang, but he's suffering from writer's block, delaying the book. His agitated publisher and best friend Ezra (Jay Baruchel, This is the End) is anxious to get the book out, and suggests that they should take a road trip back to the Midwest area where the I-90 killings took place, and where Todd happens to have grown up, to get his creative juices flowing again by revisiting the place that inspired the comic in the first place. 

Along for the ride is Todd's wife Kathy (Jordana Brewster, The Faculty), who is writing her own true crime book about the I-90 killer's victims, and his assistant Aurora (Niamh Wilson, Saw III), as well as Ezra. Things begin to go to shit when they stop-off do do an interview with a radio program about the Slasherman comics where the host, who initially posed as a fan of the series, puts Todd on blast for exploitering the the victims of the I-90 serial killer for his own gain. During the call-in portion of the show there's a call from a creepy guy who turns out to be the actual I-90 serial killer, sort of announcing that he is coming out of retirement with a numbers puzzle. 

This is bad news for Todd and his cohorts, who the next day come across a crime scene on the road that seems to replicate something called the "Terrible Triptych" straight from the pages of his comics; a macabre stitching together of three bodies into a horrific corpse sculpture. This unnerving sight indicates the comics are now inspiring the killer that inspired the comics, which is all very meta. As the bodies begin pile up Todd and his friends find themselves not only being questioned by the authorities but also on the killer's menu, culminating with Todd forced to face-off against the I-90 killer (Simon Northwood, TV's Clarice) back at his childhood home where secrets are revealed about Todd's past and the Slasherman comics origins. 

I do give a tip of the hat to co-writer/director/actor Jay Baruchel, he made a fun and gruesome slasher that I had a lot of fun with. I have not seen his the Goon films he directed, so I was a bit apprehensive about the whole comedy actor turned horror director thing, but this is a solid slasher entry. There's definitely a bit of pretentious surface level, social commentary laced throughout it about glorifying violence in media but it never gets in the way of the bad-ass practical special effects and slashery good times. Gore-hound will appreciate the gun blast to the face, a decapitation, the gruesome Terrible Triptych, all of which look to be done practical and without much if any digital help. It's a stylish looking film as well lensed by cinematographer Karim Hussain (Possessor) that gives the film a gritty but visually interesting look.  

Audio/Video: Random Acts of Violence (2019) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Acorn Media International in 1080p HD framed in 2.38:1 widescreen. This is a digital shot film and it looks great, lots of artful lighting and inventive staging of the gore set-pieces with an abundance of fine detail in the close-ups of the gruesome stuff. It's a stylized looking film with uneven contrast and color-grading that enhances the unhinged mood of it, to me it sort of had a House of A 1000 Corpses vibe to it visually. Audio comes by way of English DTS-HD MA 5.1 with optional English subtitles, offering plenty of bombastic bass and nice use of the surrounds during the action/attack sequences. 

Extras  include a 36-minute Interview with Director Jay Baruchel that establishes his horror bonafides, the 2-minute More Than Just a Scary Movie is a behind-the-scenes featurette with the director and cast, plus the 6-minute Inside the Making of an Action Scene, which takes us behind-the-scene during the filming of Todd's kidnapping scene. The single-disc release arrives in an oversized keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork, the same artwork is excerpted on the disc inside. 

Special Features:
- Interview with Director Jay Baruchel (36 min) HD 
- More Than Just a Scary Movie (2 min) HD 
- Inside the Making of an Action Scene (6 min) HD

Random Acts of Violence scratched by itch for an old school slasher film with a streamlined plot and some brutal and bloody gore set pieces. It tries to start a conversation about the media and creators glorifying violence at the expense of victims with some meta moments and a bit of pretention, but it honestly doesn't tip the scale either way. This is just a fun, old school slasher flick that I would easily recommend to any red-blooded horror fans. 

Screenshots from the Acorn Media Blu-ray: 



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