Currently playing a brief engagement in cinemas around the UK before a DVD release on July 25th, The Violent Kind is the latest offering from The Butcher Bros, a directorial duo with a name far more aggressive and striking than anything seen in their movie.
I have no experience with the past works of Mrs. Butchers favourite sons, and the only thing I knew about this movie was that it centered around a biker gang. A horror movie version of Sons Of Anarchy? It sounded like a good enough idea to me.
Both the pre-credit scene and the credits sequence seemed to fit into this vague impression, with guys in leather cuts beating on each other and a raucous punk soundtrack playing over a montage of wild parties and newspaper clippings of criminal exploits. If this were a rural crime flick, such an opening would seem fitting in something like The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia, but it’s a pretty unconventional way to kick off a horror movie. If only the rest of this film had even an ounce of that rebel spirit running through it.
The set up to the plot is simple: A group of bikers (and their “old ladies”, as they are known) are held up in a cabin in the woods, following a surprisingly lifeless birthday party. The first half hour of the movie attempts to establish character dynamics, connected histories and introduces potential love interests. Fairly standard for any movie, really. My biggest issue is that it soon became clear all the main characters were in their mid-twenties, whereas the credits sequence shows a wide range of age groups (as you would expect from an established motorcycle club). I was hoping for more variety in the characters, so this was a disappointment. I have nothing against the young and the pretty but I get sick of the horror genre being dominated by their young prettiness. Let’s see some creases, grey hairs and shaggy beards, already.
I also found it curious that the three male characters (note: all gang members) arrive to the party in a truck. No bikes, just a TRUCK. One of them doesn’t even bother to wear his vest, which is supposed to be like a second skin to bikers. This does the movie no favours in establishing characters as authentic, they can’t get the little details right and it feels like we are watching a bunch of guys playing fancy dress. When we don’t believe in your characters, we can’t invest in their situation.
As the evening winds down and the numbers dwindle to a manageable five, the film begins to take on the more recognisable form of a horror movie, as opposed to just a boring house party movie. We get random shots of strangers (in out-dated clothes), as they lurk in the shadows, spying on the house. These characters and their general appearance are the most interesting part of the movie but they don’t get to do much until the third act.
In the meantime, things take a turn for the expected when a gate-crasher shows up, covered in bloody wounds. They take her in to take care of her and quickly discover that she is no longer entirely human, or she has just forgotten the fundamentals of biting etiquette. To anyone even remotely familiar with horror movies from the last ten years, it seems like they are heading in one of three directions; feral vampires (30 Days of Night), rabid “zombies” (28 Days Later) or demonic possession (numerically challenged Rec). Whichever way they appear to be heading it feels very ‘been there, bitten that, bled all over the t-shirt’.
Speaking of the red stuff, a movie called The Violent Kind really should bring their A-game on this front, but the violence on offer is merely decent. They ladle out blood in generous portions, caking characters and walls in it, but the gore itself is fairly minimal. Meanwhile every single “scare” is telegraphed well in advance and fails to elicit even a flinch, but it’s not called The Scary Kind so I should probably ease off there.
The performances from the principal players are serviceable, no one humiliates themselves, although lead actor Cory Knauf veers dangerously close with an appearance and temperament that seems to say “stressed-out barista” more than “tormented biker”.
The Violent Kind is nothing out of the ordinary for two-thirds of its thankfully short run time, it handles these scenes competently but without offering anything new it is hard to justify watching it. I came perilously close to losing interest as the movie neared the end of its second act, but the final third of the film is genuine, genre-bending out of left field craziness. A unique enough detour that it grabbed my attention in a way the preceding hour of screen time failed to do, and convinced me to add half a star to theÂ finalÂ score.
The problem is that this portion of film introduces characters and suggests ideas for a movie that I wish I had been watching for the last hour, instead of following these underdeveloped characters engage in predictable plot beats. As a result, these wild and audacious concepts have to be crammed into a short time span and never get the justice they deserve.
The Violent Kind is a curiosity, to say the least. It’s by no means a good film, but it certainly isn’t a bad one. I can’t recommend you spend hard-earned money on a trip to the cinema or a DVD purchase, but I would suggest a rental if only for the final half hour.