Random Acts of Violence is a thrilling film that breathes new life into the realm of slasher flicks. The flick features brutal and horrifying moments, yet has substance. This rescues it from being an all-out gore fest and leaves a lasting impression on the viewer.
The film follows comic book writer Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams), who sets out on a trip with his wife, assistant, and best friend. As they head toward NYC for a comic convention, they make a stop in the area where Todd grew up. We soon learn that the area is famous for a past string of horrific murders. Todd’s comic book creation, Slasherman, is loosely based on these events.
Things turn creepy upon their stop in the small town. As their adventure continues, things only get worse. Someone is committing murder in the same area, only this time, the killings are copycat versions of those in Todd’s comic books.
I enjoyed the atmosphere of the film. It turned dark in a literal and figurative sense shortly after the group stops for gas in Todd’s hometown. Also, the score does its job by adding tension and intensifying emotions throughout the film.
While horror doesn’t have to scare every time to be satisfying, it’s an added bonus when the film is truly frightening. While we’re all different, most seasoned fans of the genre are not easily scared, and feel a bit of a thrill when it finally happens. The adrenaline rush that comes with heart-pounding fear was present for me throughout several scenes in this film.
The first murder in the film was terrifying, as it was a realistic scenario, and the killer is clearly human, which is something more sinister and chilling and makes us empathize more with the characters and imagine that certain acts are truly possible. It heightens the senses while viewing a film and can leave us looking over our shoulder more often in the future.
Each of the murder scenes feature some truly horrific images—one of which I still can’t shake from my memory. While the film is uniquely its own, modern stories still draw influence from past blockbusters. I couldn’t help but find myself thinking of a few classic horror or thriller films from the past while viewing this one. I won’t name them, as I think everyone should draw their own conclusions. Let’s just say there are definitely elements of suspense and thrill that were reminiscent of how I felt watching older films.
The killer plays a game of cat and mouse with Todd and his crew, complete with cryptic messages received via phone call. This adds a bit of mystery and suspense to the film and increases the tension. This information, combined with scattered flashbacks to Todd’s past, keep the viewer on their toys. It’ll make you think and not just feel like a passive viewer.
As mentioned, there’s some substance to this film other than the horrific and memorable death scenes. There’s a heart to the story as we learn more about the comic creator’s past and begin to understand more of what makes him tick. The other characters are more secondary and didn’t stand out as much to me. I’ve only known Jesse Williams in his role on Grey’s Anatomy, so it was refreshing to see him play a different character. While the acting was not a 10 out of 10, I found it to be a solid cast overall. I also appreciated the occasional comedic elements brought about by actor/director and co-writer Jay Baruchel.
When things come together in the end, answers are provided, but I would’ve preferred more backstory in the beginning of the film. This is a personal preference that I think would’ve added to my understanding and empathy for the main character.
That being said, it’s one of my favorite horror films thus far into 2021. Whether it will make it to my own Top 10 list of the year remains to be seen. However, I’d still recommend it to other horror fans. If you’re a fan of true crime and slashers with a bit of heart in the mix, Random Acts of Violence should be on your watch list.
WICKED RATING: 7/10
Random Acts of Violence is available as of 2/16 on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-Ray.