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Exclusive comments: Jay Baruchel commits “RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE”

Tuesday, July 30, 2019 | Exclusive, Interviews

By MICHAEL GINGOLD

At the current Fantasia festival in Montreal, RUE MORGUE caught up with cinematographer Karim Hussain (HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN, WE ARE STILL HERE, ANTIVIRAL), who gave us some exclusive words on one of his new films: RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE, based on the Kickstart Comics book by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray.

Actor Jay Baruchel (pictured above right with Hussain), better known for comedic turns in the likes of THIS IS THE END, TROPIC THUNDER and KNOCKED UP and as the voice of Hiccup in the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON films, ventures into the horror genre as director and co-writer (with Jesse Chabot) of RANDOM ACTS, which shot last fall in Toronto. Jesse Williams, from THE CABIN IN THE WOODS and soon to be seen in the JACOB’S LADDER remake, stars as comic-book creator Todd, and Jordana Brewster (TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING, THE FACULTY) is his author girlfriend Kathy.

“Kathy is writing a book about the victims of the true-life killer that Todd’s comic is based on,” Hussain explains. “So the movie addresses the reality of the consequences of the victims of somebody like this, and then the morality of turning a true serial killer into a Freddy Krueger/Jason Voorhees-type pop-culture icon Todd calls Slasherman. He’s doing a comic-booky version of the actual crimes that took place, and the film is about what happens when that person sees you’re in town, is re-inspired by your pop-culture version of him and tries to become that incarnation. The movie confronts these concepts head-on; the original RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE comic wasn’t as based in, ‘All right, but these were real people who were killed,’ whereas the film takes a much more passionate stance on that, and is a much darker version.”

Baruchel and Chabot first signed on to do the RANDOM ACTS movie way back in 2011, and Hussain says the finished product will be worth the wait. “This is something people will not expect from Jay,” he continues, “because it’s a pretty heavy horror movie that’s almost experimental in form sometimes. There are certainly a lot of radical decisions in terms of color, in terms of editing, there’s animation in it; it’s pretty out-there in a sense, while exploring the morality of creating art or pop culture, in this case a comic book, based on true crime. It’s got a bit of a punk-rock spirit to it. Jay is a huge horror fan and loves radical art movies, which are things people don’t necessarily know about him. So he’s not afraid of taking risks, both visually and in terms of story structure and editing structure.

“And while RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE seems like it’s wrapped in a sort of comfortable pop-culture bubble, let’s say, it is still very nihilistic, very dark and kind of bold in its structure. It has a lot of Jay’s obsessions in it, too. He’s a true auteur and a delight to work with, and I think he may make some new fans with this movie who wouldn’t necessarily go to see some of his more mainstream work. RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE is anything but a mainstream movie, and it’s also very different from his first film as director, GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS. You almost could not tell it’s from the same filmmaker.”

The cast also includes Niamh Wilson, who has appeared in SAW III-VI and David Cronenberg’s MAPS TO THE STARS, as Todd’s assistant Aurora, and Baruchel himself as Ezra, Todd’s best friend and publisher. “Elevation has the movie in Canada,” says Hussain (who’s currently in early prep on “the feature directorial debut of a well-known horror screenwriter”), “and SND, a French company, is selling it worldwide, so we’ll see where it goes. Right now they’re exploring various options of putting it out there as opposed to the typical route—you know, play the festivals, get your reviews, put it out—which is exciting to me. They’re exploring different ideas right now.”

Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and spent 28 years as a writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. In addition to RUE MORGUE, he currently writes for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM, IndieWire.com, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM and others. His book THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press) is out this fall, and he has contributed liner notes and featurettes to a number of Blu-ray and DVD releases. Among his screenplay credits are SHADOW: DEAD RIOT and LEECHES!, and he is currently working on THE DOLL with director Dante Tomaselli.