Film Review: The Violent Kind (2010)
Directors: The Butcher Brothers
Writers: Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores, Adam Weis
Starring: Taylor Cole, Tiffany Shepis, Bret Roberts, Joe Egender, Cory Knauf, Joseph McKelheer
Running time: 90 minutes
Cinema Release Date: TBC (Shown on 2nd October 2010 at GZ International Film Festival)
The Violent Kind clambers on top of you, viciously penetrates and upon climax smacks you in the face. This sentiment depicts both the introductory scene and the experience one endures whilst watching The Violent Kind. Whilst there is much to be admired by this brave David Lynch inspired effort, it isn’t as immediately enjoyable as The Butcher Brothers’ previous offering, The Hamiltons.
After a strong cocktail of sex and violence we are introduced to members of the notorious Nor Cal biker gang. The Violent Kind lives up to its namesake instantly as gang members Cody (Knauf), his cousin Q (Roberts) and the sleazy Elroy (Tagas) lay into an unfortunate after a failed drug deal. This showcase of pure hatred is an encouraging start and is reminiscent of the unfiltered brand of malevolence that shocked audiences during David Cronenberg’s similarly titled A History of Violence. Unfortunately The Violent Kind tapers off into the realms of insignificance for thirty minutes as the Nor Cal posse make their way over to a cabin deep within Redwood Forest to celebrate Cody’s Mother’s birthday. Hardcore horror fanatics expecting raw, intestine flailing aggression must endure simplistic character development more akin to high school horrors than the grindhouse spirit that The Violent Kind seeks. Cody awkwardly sees his ex girlfriend, Michelle (Shepis), with her new bloke before being hit on by her younger sister Megan (Prousalis). Thankfully A Violent Kind turns things up a notch after the party ends when Michelle returns looking a little worse for wear. It’s not long until she is locked in a bedroom and tied to the bed for trying to devour various members of the Nor Cal gang. This zombie-like state doesn’t deter Elroy from trying to seduce her, who loses a chunk of flesh for his troubles. Shepis plays the part of the possessed incredibly well resembling a cross between the less restrained zombies of Romero’s 1985 classic Day of the Dead and Nell from The Last Exorcism.
It’s easy to see why this film has been given the very modern ‘WTF’ genre label as the film seems to chop and change regularly, plunging from one plotline to the next. It’s this almost non-linear style that pays homage to and imitates David Lynch. Unfortunately The Butcher Brothers don’t manage to pull it off to its full potential. At times one can’t help but feel that they’ve tried a little too hard giving the film a flimsy fabricated feel.
Despite its shortcomings, The Violent Kind comes into its own when the 1950s pompadour sporting rockabillies turn up and hold Cody and the gang hostage. The band of misfits, lead by the charismatic Vernon (Egender), consists of the thuggish Jazz (McKeelher), oddball Murderball (Child) and eye-candy Trixie (Firgens) and Pussywagon (Matthews). The rockabillies make their objective known from the get-go – to take the ever deteriorating Michelle. Whilst their intentions are never fully explained there are various theories that can be quite obviously deduced when watching The Violent Kind. As they taunt and bully the Nor Cal gang, paying particular attention to Cody, there is a sadistic, fun-filled charm to the psychotic knife wielding lunacy that is not too far removed from the inhumane pleasure one can derive from witnessing other psychotic families, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Sawyer family and the more recent Firefly family of The Devil’s Rejects fame. The upbeat carefree nature in which they enforce suffering upon others is reminiscent of the droogs in A Clockwork Orange. The off-the-wall rockabillies all have their own unique eccentricities that add to the bizarreness of The Violent Kind, particular highlights include Jazz who cracks his forehead against the wall until blood erupts like a Vesuvian outpouring and Murderball who constantly sports a pair of studio style headphones that play white noise at full volume. One cannot help but feel that if The Butcher Brothers had concentrated exclusively on the exploration of the rockabillies, rather than attempting to create a kooky, offbeat artistic horror, that the film would have been a resounding success.
As the film ends one cannot help but wonder if this was all a philosophical commentary about humankind. Whilst this may be the case, it is more important to take away a feeling of enjoyment from the self indulgent sadism and playful tongue-in-cheek jibes courtesy of Egender’s excellent portrayal of Vernon and his circus of rockabillies. The Violent Kind will frustrate and entertain in almost equal measures, if you can withstand the first forty five minutes then it’s worth persisting with the last for some good old fashioned kicks, the violent kind.