Earlier this year, the critics at large bashed Scream 4 for ignoring the last decade's worth of horror movies, and I thought it was baffling. To me, the film was a greatly relieving throwback, a case-in-point example of tradition trumping innovation. Today, it seems like people can't make a genre picture without bending over backwards to fix something that isn't broken, and the result is a swath of half-baked ideas that try to grab the audience with shock value and genre-bending rather than strong, simple characters and good, old-fashioned suspense. The Violent Kind is one of those movies: loud, obnoxiously in love with itself, and entirely unpleasant to watch.
Cody (Cory Knauf), Q (Bret Roberts), and Elroy (Nick Tagas) are a trio of thugs who ride with a notorious biker gang called The Crew. We're introduced to the boys in a supposedly funny sequence in which Q has loud sex with his girlfriend Shade (Taylor Cole), then beats up a hick who tries to intimidate him, followed by beers and joking amongst the three of them. Heading out into the middle of nowhere for a party, everything's coming up Harley-Davidson until wild-girl Michelle (Tiffany Shepis) turns up covered in blood, screaming for help.
Written and directed by a duo credited as The Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores), the movie is a mess of on-the-nose, over-written exposition and underwritten horror movie concepts, topped off with a thick layer of sickening over-acting from the film's supporting cast. Michelle turns into some sort of demon (loosely explained) and bites off a face or two before a bizarre cult-slash-gang shows up and unveils the truth about what's going on. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Cody and Q find time to beat the shit out of each other (stemming from a risky crime that landed Cody in prison and could've threatened the entire gang), and some sort of uninteresting romance simmers between Cody and Michelle's sister Megan (Christina Prousalis).
Like From Dusk Till Dawn, which switches halfway through from Tarantino-esque action picture to full-on horror movie, The Violent Kind switches at the midway point from boring to painful, thanks to Joe Egender, who plays Vernon, the leader of the villainous pack. His performance is one of those grandstanding, "look-at-me" showstoppers that can be pulled off by a very slim number of performers, and Egender is not one of them. From the moment the actor steps on screen, clearly relishing every faux-sympathetic, gleeful word that comes out of his mouth, the viewer almost immediately wants the movie to end, all existing prints to catch fire, and for the Butcher Brothers and Egender to go to film jail, where they will be forced to watch similar performances until all three of them learn a lesson. Trapped between unlikable thug bikers and a horrible, scenery-chewing villain, the audience has no escape from the terrors the film unintentionally unleashes.
Admittedly, The Butcher Brothers are not complete failures: this is clearly a movie that makes the most of limited means, including a single location, a cast of unknowns, and home-made special effects that get an A for effort and a D for execution, but there's nothing to enjoy about the finished product, which stumbles along without drive or focus, consistently finding new and innovative ways to decrease the film's appeal. They say that originality in the film industry is dying a slow death, but I'd rather watch predictable movies for another decade or two if The Violent Kind is what passes for originality.
The Packaging, Video, Audio, and Extras
Image Entertainment provided a screener of The Violent Kind, which helpfully turns the entire screen black and white and pastes a caption over the ENTIRE SCREEN every fifteen minutes, so I can't accurately assess any other part of this release. Final product should include a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, English captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, Spanish subtitles, deleted scenes, a making-of featurette, and the trailer.
The Violent Kind is the tiniest bit admirable in that it is a completed, objectively polished independent feature film, and entirely awful in pretty much every other concievable aspect. Skip it, skip it, skip it.
For a counter-argument on the merits of the movie, please check out Adam Tyner's review of the Blu-Ray.
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