There's no audio commentary or anything on this Blu-ray disc, so I have no idea how The Violent Kind came together. I'm kind of guessing that it started with Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores -- y'know,
The Butcher Brothers -- spitballing some ideas for a few different movies. How about a sleazy, hyperviolent biker flick? How 'bout a spam-in-a-cabin Evil Dead knockoff? Oh, or one of those brutal home invasion thrillers like Funny Games? Or...hell, why not tackle another marketable genre and skip horror completely? Rather than settling on just one of those movies and running with that, The Butcher Bros. opted to make all of 'em. That's what The Violent Kind is. It's one subgenre careening head-on into another, over and over again. Just when you think you finally have a grasp of what the movie is, The Violent Kind pulls the rug out from under you and sends you screaming, battered, and bloodied into another flick altogether. It's brutal, it's intense, it's bizarre, and, more than anything, it's completely unpredictable.
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Mom's fiftieth birthday party! No, she's not that kind of mom, and it's not that kind of birthday party. The whole thing's really just an excuse for The Crew -- one of North California's most feared biker gangs -- to let off some steam. Beer. Bikes. Some kind of Suicide Girl stripper-type writhing around on mommy's lap and making out with her. It's a whole thing. When it's all over, a few stragglers can't claw their way back to their rides. Quentin (Bret Roberts) is the chest-thumper who's clearly the leader of this chopper bunch, and Elroy (Nick Tagas) is marching in lockstep right behind him. Somewhere off in the distance is the third member of their crew, Cody (Cory Knauf). He's fresh out of prison for a stupid mistake that could've dragged the rest of the gang in the clink with him, and with tensions running this high, he's an outsider among outsiders. His leggy cousin Shade (Taylor Cole) is trying but doesn't get it. His skeevy ex Michelle (Tiffany Shepis) just sneers down at him. The only bright spot for Cody in this place is Michelle's sympathetic kid sister Megan (Christina Prousalis). Okay, so curbstomping...strippers...feelings...but this is supposed to be a horror movie, right? ...and that's when Michelle stumbles back to the cabin, slashed to ribbons and sopping with blood. Phones don't work. Cars won't start. Anything resembling civilization is many, many miles away. They need to get Michelle to a hospital, but they're trapped, and whatever did this to her is lurking somewhere out there too. They're so distracted by all this that they don't really notice what else is happening to Michelle...
...and that's the first left turn of many. I don't want to say too much about what all happens in The Violent Kind because the jarring, sudden shifts are such a huge part of the fun. Still, even though the movie may be impossible for viewers to pin down, The Violent Kind knows exactly what it is and what it wants to do. It's mashing genres together but keeps the overall tone consistent. This is a sticky, sleazy, and unrepentently brutal grindhouse flick, with everything from bloody demon diddling to a face being gnawed off all the way down to a couple of rockabilly girls out of the 1950s
fucking each other with a beer bottle dildo. A genre flick this fiercely independent doesn't have any boundaries to fret about, and when The Violent Kind is fully unleashed, it gets really intense. I love the way it slavishly honors horror clichés while completely upending them at the same time. I mean, the skeleton of the story looks like pretty much everything else out of the early '80s -- a bunch of kids stranded in the middle of nowhere are savagely picked off one by one -- and it wears its Evil Dead influence in particular on its sleeve. Still, all of those movies generally revolved around mostly clean-cut kids hopelessly out of their depth. The twentysomethings here are hardened, unflinchingly violent bikers, not a bunch of pussies taking a long weekend from college. These sorts of movies generally have at least one character who storms off to find some kind of way out, shrieking that everyone else can stay behind and fend for themselves. Nothing passive-aggressive about these motherfuckers. Instead of that "you do what you want, but I'm outta here" speech, you have Q and Cody beating the ever-loving shit out of each other. The in-fighting isn't just a bunch of talking but hand-to-God fighting.
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Every gripe I've ever had about a horror flick, The Violent Kind finds some way to sidestep it. The Butcher Bros. have assembled a hell of a cast, for one. There aren't any weak links at all, and although the performances can get kind of broad in its last half-hour or so, that's not only intentional but kind of has to be that way. Can't really say anything more than that without veering into spoiler territory. A lot of these movies are building up to some finger-wagglingly shocking reveal or twist, but The Violent Kind doesn't settle for just one and tears off in a completely different direction every twenty or thirty minutes. No matter how seasoned and cynical a genre vet you may be, it's not possible to predict where The Violent Kind is heading next, and I love that. Some may find these sudden shifts tough to stomach, but...well, if you feel that way, there are plenty of more linear, straightforward horror flicks out there for you. I wouldn't want every genre movie I watch to be this chaotic, but on its own, this approach is wildly effective. Whenever The Violent Kind sets out to shock or unnerve, it nails it. Nothing's overexplained. The extended setup is on the slow side, the same as pretty much every other horror movie, ever, but it never overstays its welcome. The Violent Kind tears off in so many directions that even with as long as this review is, I haven't even touched on any of the insanity that goes on its second half...and again, that's practically a completely different movie than everything that had come before it too. The Violent Kind is clearly the work of horror fanatics who are tired of the same old shit...who set out to make something more clever and less predictable than the glut of other genre flicks out there. A movie that takes this many risks and is willing to go this far out there clearly isn't gonna be for all tastes, but me...? I loved the hell out of The Violent Kind, and if you're tired of slogging through the same formulaic, cookie-cutter horror flicks, then this Blu-ray disc is really worth tracking down. Highly Recommended.
Although The Violent Kind was shot digitally and doesn't try to hide it, the cinematography's also taking a stab at capturing the gritty, grimy look of 16mm horror from the '70s and early '80s. For the majority of the movie, almost every trace of color is drained away, drenching every square inch of the frame in a muddy brown. The heavy video noise even comes close to approximating the coarse texture of film grain. Sure, sure...the clarity and detail served up here definitely set this apart from anything a DVD could deliver, but The Violent Kind isn't glossy, gorgeous, high definition eye candy and isn't trying to be either. At least up to a point, this Blu-ray disc presents a deliberately rough looking movie about as well as it possibly could.
The stumbling block is the anemic bitrate. The gritty texture of The Violent Kind is a challenge to compress properly, and clocking in under 15 gigs, the AVC encode on this Blu-ray disc doesn't even come close. Pop open any of the uncompressed screenshots scattered around this review, and you'll see what I mean. The strange thing is that around a third of the capacity of this disc is completely untouched, so there's plenty of room to have done this right. I guess Image just decided it wasn't worth the effort. The sloppy compression isn't a dealbreaker or anything, but it's still disappointing, especially for genre fanatics with front projection rigs.
The Violent Kind sports a very effective 16-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Bass response is solid, especially the throaty growl of motorcycle engines and the low-frequency kick to the wildly eclectic choices of music. Use of the surround channels isn't all that aggressive, but the instrumentation in the soundtrack definitely takes full advantage, and the rears also flesh out an uneasy atmosphere: eerie whistling, demonic shrieks, and even discrete effects like footsteps and creaking doors to crank up the intensity. No complaints about the way dialogue comes through either. Despite the movie's very limited budget, an incredible amount of effort was clearly invested in The Violent Kind's sound design, and that really comes through on this Blu-ray disc.
There aren't any dubs or downmixes this time around, but The Violent Kind does serve up subtitle streams in English (SDH) and Spanish.
that much, unfortunately.
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- Deleted Scenes (5 min.; HD): This reel piles together four short alternate and deleted scenes, including an intro to a few of the other members of The Crew as well as a more special-effects-heavy take on some hallucinatory, demonic making-out.
- Lemonade and Dancing: The Making of The Violent Kind (16 min.; SD): Rather than going the talking heads route the way most of these kinds of extras usually do, The Violent Kind's making-of featurette is nothing but candid, behind the scenes footage with a little narration on top. The shooting of the ceiling drop attack is explored at length, and there are also peeks at the gruesome splatter effects, running through the best way to bind and gag the cast, cameras rolling on the very last shot of the flick, as well as The Violent Kind's very successful run on the festival circuit.
- Trailer (1 min.; SD): Last up is a standard-def trailer.
The Final Word
The Violent Kind is a cacklingly demented and depraved genre mashup, transforming itself every half-hour into an almost unrecognizably different horror flick. The Butcher Bros. opt not to play it safe, taking the kind of chances that a mainstream genre movie never could. The Violent Kind gets so much else right that it would've been an easy recommendation anyway: great cast, plenty of splatter, some truly intense and disturbing scares. Add in that unhinged unpredictability, though...? Essential viewing, especially for genre fanatics desperate for something different. Highly Recommended.
A Couple More Screenshots...