Almost certainly best known for his comedy roles, Jay Baruchel elects to take a severe genre turn for his second directorial outing, switching to no-holds-barred horror.

And no-holds-barred it certainly is, with Slasherman being something of a wild ride – not entirely successful, but with more than enough to make it watchable.

Comic book writer Todd (Jesse Williams) is searching for inspiration as to how to put together the final issue of his wildly successful series, Slasherman.

A gory, graphic opus, Slasherman is actually based on the infamous ‘I-90 Killer’, a mask-wearing serial killer who carved up a host of victims in the late 80s/early 90s.

Electing to go on a road trip to get over his writer’s block, Todd opts for visiting a few old haunts, along with stopping off for a few comic signings and interview opportunities.

Also along for the ride are Todd’s girlfriend Kathy – Jordana Brewster (also a writer and deep in research on the real I-90 killer’s victims), indie comic publisher Ezra (Baruchel) and Ezra’s girlfriend and budding artist Aurora (Niamh Wilson).

Things start off fine, but take a noticeable turn for the worst after a disastrous radio interview sees Todd slammed for glamorising violence. But that is just the start, as it appears someone seems to be enjoying the kills in Todd’s comic a bit too much – and they plan to carry them out for real…

There is a definite whiff of the likes of Tenebrae, The Dark Half and so on with this one (writer stalked by his own creation), but Baruchel (who also wrote the script based on a comic series) does a good enough job in keeping his distance and making Random Acts Of Violence his own.

Chief success in that is the film’s design and colour scheme, from washed-out highways to torrential downpours, peppered with animated inserts lifted straight from the pages of Slasherman.

One other notable aspect is that Baruchel certainly does not hold back on the violence, which (when it comes) is vicious, gory and brutal. An early stabbing sequence is so prolonged it almost becomes too much, but it certainly shows the director is a dab hand at staging a set piece.

Here’s the main problem with Slasherman though, with the film seemingly at odds with itself for a chunk of the running time. Brewster’s character Kathy continues to make a series of perfectly valid points over victims being forgotten, killing being fetishized and violence being portrayed as fun. You suddenly get the feeling that the film is trying to make some grand statement, but then five minutes later a character is graphically decapitated and the whole thing seems very confused.

The ending also leaves something to be desired, with the climax not really matching the hysteria of some of the build-up. There is also a major cheat on the part of the filmmakers concerning a series of flashbacks, but that may just be me.

Despite that, there is plenty to praise here. The performances are strong across the board (noticeably Brewster), the film moves at one hell of a pace and Baruchel handles the horrific elements with some ease.

Random Acts of Violence then has to get a grade of good, not great, but I’d love to see him return to the horror genre in the future.

Random Acts Of Violence is available on Shudder from August 20.

Movie Review: Random Acts Of Violence
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About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle