Over the years, the conversation around whether or not art inspires violence has been as passionately debated as religion and politics. Random Acts of Violence hones in on that conversation, hoping to add more to an already-complicated debate. The film follows artist and writer Todd Walkley (Jesse Williams) and his small publishing team as they road trip across America to do the final press tour for his comic, Slasherman. Joining them is Todd’s girlfriend, Kathy (Jordana Brewster), who sees things just a little bit differently than the rest of them.
Much of the general public struggle with Todd’s comics. While a serial killer protagonist works out for comics like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, it only does so because said stories go out of their way to be ridiculous. Slasherman plays things straight, following a very real serial killer’s series of murders before he disappeared without ever being captured.
While Todd, his publisher Ezra (Jay Baruchel) and assistant Hannah (Aviva Mongillo) all find themselves passionate about the Slasherman and his legacy, Kathy’s focus is all on the stories of the victims. Things quickly start to break down between them as their quest for press and the perfect ending is interrupted by the real Slasherman’s resurfacing.
Random Acts of Violence was introduced as a conversation piece. While it wants to say a lot, it doesn’t really bring anything fresh to the table. Both Todd and Kathy are presented as two extremes, resulting in both characters being frustrating in their own right. But, while the movie doesn’t really have much to say, it does manage to succeed in the gore department. The Slasherman’s first attack starts erratic and conflicted, then immediately shifts into high gear as his victims desperately try to escape his knife. The movie then keeps the blood coming for the rest of its short runtime, illustrating some solid work from Random Acts of Violence’s makeup department.
Though the movie doesn’t seem to say what it set out to, it’s worth acknowledging how well something that intended to present the art behind the mayhem portrays itself. The lighting is done well from start to finish, playing with reds and greens throughout. Those colors have a specific intent, tying things back to a traumatic experience of Todd’s past that forever tied his story to the Slasherman’s.
Random Acts of Violence may not say anything new, but it’s quick, bloody, and brimming with some genuinely solid practical effects. Avoid if squeamish, hug your dog, and maybe look away for a couple scenes if the phrase “gut garland” makes you make a face.