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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Violent Kind (2010) review


Cody Knauf (Cody), Bret Roberts (Q), Christina Prousalis (Megan), Tiffany Shepis (Michelle), Taylor Cole (Shade), Joe Egender (Vernon), Joseph McKelheer (Jazz), Samuel Child (Murderball), MacKenzie Firgens (Trixie), Illea Matthews (Pussywagon)

Directed by The Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores)

"All this killin' and unnecessary, but it seems to be the only thing you people respond to."--Vernon

The Short Version: A maddeningly frustrating stew of ideas and pseudo subtext about some form of alien exterminating angels with an obsession for 50s rockabilly holding a biker gang hostage while indulging in group torture sessions and possessing victims EVIL DEAD style. The ending alludes to a wide reaching apocalypse, but the ambiguity of these final shots never makes it clear if these "visitors" are from outer space, or hail from the dark realms within the mind of author H.P. Lovecraft. It's easy to write off this chaotic mess as a bizarre slop-fest, but it's all fairly well mounted giving the impression that something creative is festering over the course of the films violence fueled 89 minutes. If only the makers had let it cook a bit longer.

Cody, a second generation member of a notorious Northern California biker gang sets out with his friends to a secluded farmhouse in the woods for a big celebration for his mother's birthday. During the course of the evening, one of the girls leaves the party only to return later in the evening covered in blood. Possessed by a demonic force, the crimson covered female attacks and kills one of the group. Not long after, the farmhouse is invaded by a clutch of bizarre, body snatching, inter-dimensional satanic maniacs obsessed with 50s culture who are apparently otherworldly soldiers hellbent on human extinction.

It's almost impossible to describe this here movie. It's not quite sure what it wants to be. But then, it's shot in such a way, it's likely the filmmakers intended any and all confusion by its viewership. There's the ever present erratic camerawork that places you square in the middle of the action whether you like it or not. The film can't make up its mind what the hell it wants to be going from a lame attempt at a biker movie to 90210 theatrics, then briefly embracing THE EVIL DEAD (1981). It then dumps all of those furiously grasping at straws including theological topics and what appears to be either an alien invasion, or the cosmic horror of H.P. Lovecraft. It reminds one of any number of indecipherable songs from bands who get their "ideas" from "epiphanies" brought on by the use of recreational drugs. I can't say I liked it and I can't say I totally disliked it. There appears to be something lying underneath the surface although it's difficult to pin down just what that is judging by the films scatter-shot script that suffers from a compound fracture of the logic bone.

It's a grotesque Rocka-billy nightmare depicting a Lovecraftian Armageddon brought about by some form of alien beings who apparently are aggravated to a violent degree by man's devoted propensity to destroy one another. These rebels with a lot of "claws" are led by a wiry and wild-eyed lunatic doing his best William Sanderson impression from FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977). The final moments are eerily reminiscent of a similar, yet even more frightening conclusion from the Japanese sci fi-horror GOKE, BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL (1968). But whereas that motion picture was a likewise strange brew that managed to explain itself by the finale, this movie from the aptly named Butcher Brothers refuses to adhere to conventions of any one genre in particular.

It starts off like a brutish teen angst biker flick (with the most unconvincing band of bikers to ever hop on a hog) before briefly stopping in Sam Raimi demonic possession territory. The film quickly abandons the Necronomical template to settle for a stretch within the parameters of the 'Home Invasion' subgenre of brutal torture horror cinema. The intermittent shots of lights erupting out of people's orifices raises some questions as to what exactly is supposed to be happening. We get a semi explanation in the form of psychotic otherworldy beings hellbent on teaching mankind a lesson for its savage transgressions. However, no explanation is given as to why these "aliens" have a fondness for 50s dress and pop culture.

There's also a Charles Manson vibe going on during the home invasion section of the film that starts around the 50 minute mark. The demonic gang leave strange satanic markings as their "calling cards" and allude that they may actually be part of a mass army of literal Hell's Angels. Then there's the confusing moments wherein Vernon states they want Michelle, the sister of one of the girls and the one who took Lamberto Bava's DEMONS (1985) a bit too seriously earlier in the movie. They want something inside of her, but whatever "that" is is never fully explained. Her soul, perhaps? Who knows.

Again, the film switches gears and veers off into INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS territory while babbling on about the void and the creatures that inhabit space and other such unexplained topics. There's also a touch of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and an impending "zombie" apocalypse shortly after Vernon releases Cody and Megan explaining to them, "Your kind is a dying breed...the human kind." This is followed by an enormous UFO that hovers over the town zapping people turning them into the type of folks that populated the creepy town seen in MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973).

It makes no sense whatsoever and has little to offer aside from some judicious gore and some manically over the top performances. The cast is attractive, yet, just like so many horror movies today, virtually nobody is likable at all. It really makes no sense that horror filmmakers today steadfastly refuse to put likable characters in bonafide peril, rarely killing them off. Difficult to recommend, it's also difficult to ascertain just what the intention was on the part of the filmmakers. You might love it, you might hate it, or you might come away scratching your head. Unless you want to see Tiffany Shepis totally naked again, proceed at your own risk.

This review is representative of the Image Entertainment DVD


Aaron said...

I actually had to go back and read my review of this to remember what I thought of it. At the time, like you, I thought VIOLENT KIND was a mess, but an interesting mess with moments of promise that never seemed to reach their full potential. Now, though? I barely remember anything about it. Ha! Have you seen THE HAMILTONS, or the APRIL FOOL'S DAY remake? Same cast in all three, pretty much.

venoms5 said...

I wasn't aware you had reviewed it, Aaron. I'll check yours later to compare. No, I've not seen there other movies. I did see a few minutes of HAMILTONS on HBO I think it was, but remember nothing about it.

beerad said...

although I see all of the horror elements here, I get a straight up alien take over flick from this. The weirdest alien take over to visit the silver screen but an invasion all the same. I don't think the 50's style invaders was a preference to the aliens rather the personalities of those particular characters. He mentions the void where time doesn't exist which seemed to me like a subtle hint at an explaination for the seemingly immortal rock a billies. They use our bodies. Their queen is taking michelle. No demonic possesion. He also mentions that our ides of God and the Devil and angels originated from "up there" "our kind." I saw plenty of explaination just thrown into so subtleythat it was missed. Just my take

ZeroTiki said...

There were 3 cuts of this film, each pared down a bit. The original, the film fest circuit cut, and the final cut. I had the pleasure of taking part as an extra in this project (the leather jacketed individual in the diner scene).

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