I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this one from all-mod-cons directors The Butcher Brothers, who have previously had outings with The Hamiltons and the April Fools Day remake. Both have packed quite a punch. Billed simply as a birthday party gone wrong, pleasingly The Violent Kind turned out to be so much more than that. Part horror, part sci-fi, we’re taken on a rollercoaster ride of a story, touching on several popular filmic influences on the way. When Cody takes his two biker gang friends to his mother’s cabin to celebrate her birthday, his ex-girlfriend Michelle is involved in a car accident that kills her new boyfriend. She is seriously injured and needs medical attention but mysteriously all their mobile phones have lost their signal and nobody’s car will start. They’re stranded.
Unconscious and covered in blood, they take Michelle up to one of the bedrooms. When left alone she attempts to eat half the face of a party goer in a bloody frenzy. When they go back in to the bedroom to check on her she is climbing on the ceiling, think Spiderman crossed with The Exorcist. And when they get her tied to the bed she spouts out some warnings in a chillingly demonic voice. Q, the other gang member, sets out on foot and comes across Michelle’s dead boyfriend. Only he doesn’t seem to be dead anymore. He stumbles about, confused but surprisingly cheerful, his head a bloody mess.
All the while some mysterious men are outside patiently watching the group. They bide their time and when they finally make their violent entrance they turn the story on its head. Suddenly, it becomes the scene of a home invasion gangster movie. But there is something very odd about these people; they all look and act like they’re 1950’s rockabillies. It’s funny and frightening all at once. They’ve come for Michelle but first they want to have fun with Cody’s short temper and some knives.
At times, The Violent Kind is quite beautiful – such as when the rockabilly gang is standing outside in the woods watching the house, their backdrop complete with a Fright Night sky, and a colourful evil face can almost be made out in the clouds. Several times we are touched by other film references like the madness of Reservoir Dogs, the lost youth of The Lost Boys and timeless imagery of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, demonstrating the film’s message of how impressionable we are.
The acting was exciting. Joe Egender plays Vernon the rockabilly gang leader with so much electrifying enthusiasm that he is my lasting memory of this surprise of a film. He bounds about like a character out of a Tarantino movie or perhaps even more fittingly, like Malcolm McDowell’s Alex DeLarge in A Clockwork Orange.
The Violent Kind is a reflection on our human kind, our false hopes and arrogance. It’s a lesson in our behaviour as a race and that if we can’t act humanely towards each other how do we expect those who are impressionable to act humanely towards us?