VOD REVIEW: Random Acts of Violence deliberately provocative and brilliant

As a pushing-30 reviewer, I was in my late teens during the heyday of Judd Apatow classics like Knocked Up and the charms of slender Canadian Jay Baruchel.

He represents your everyman. So much so, in fact, that he was the star of modest hit comedy She’s Out Of My League. He’s found success in directing, and surprise surprise, when I met him at the premiere of his directorial debut, Goon 2, he was just as kind in person as he is onscreen.

So when I heard the hockey-loving, foul-mouthed, good-natured Baruchel was directing, writing and starring in a horror movie, I was stunned. I was also intensely excited.

With Random Acts Of Violence, Baruchel has created an astute, interesting film sure to elicit some differing responses on the influence violence in the media has on real-life events. But what’s so interesting about this slasher film is that Baruchel knowingly lets characters squirm, and never makes his film — or script — take one side or the other.

As Ezra, he plays a financier who backs his friend’s graphic comic book Slasher Man, based on a series of real-life murders on a stretch of highway decades prior. With the killer as the protagonist, writer Todd has drawn the ire more than once of people saying he’s glorifying the killings.

But while suffering writer’s block for the final issue, the two take a road trip with Todd’s girlfriend Kathy and Ezra’s sister Aurora. As they visit the towns affected by the murders, they begin to realize tragic events happening around them are being modelled after killings in Slasher Man.

Grey’s Anatomy’s Jesse Williams, Baruchel, Fast & Furious alum Jordana Brewster and Degrassi and Saw star Niamh Wilson are all great here, in a film that needed top-notch performances to succeed.

Random Acts Of Violence works both as a horror film — it’s plenty gory and scary — and as a philosophical debate, and because Baruchel deftly melds the two together, this is a 2020 highlight.

4/5 Stars

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