★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
An art house slasher with more symbolism than story.
Directed by G. Patrick Condon
To be honest, Incredible Violence (2018) wasn’t what I expected. Yes, it’s another attempt at self-aware meta-horror. And, yes, it’s about a director trying to make a horror movie on the cheap by killing off his actors for real — which apparently isn’t a spoiler since it’s in the synopsis at IMDB:
A hack filmmaker wastes the money lent to him by a mysterious organization, and so has to take matters into his own hands by locking a cast of actors in a house and becoming the villain in his own slasher movie.IMDB
But I was expecting to have to slog through another variation of Cut Shoot Kill (2017).
Refreshingly, where Cut Shoot Kill failed in its attempt to blur the lines between what’s real and what’s part of the movie-within-a-movie, with Incredible Violence what you see is what you get. At least, for the most part.
What you get is Stephen Oates [TV’s Frontier (2018)] playing a down-and-out director named G. Patrick Condon (no, really). G. Patrick was given $250,000 by a shadowy group of financiers to make a horror movie — called “Incredible Violence,” of course — and he spent it on everything but the horror movie. Now, he needs to come up with a very, very cheap film very, very quickly.
His solution is to outfit a big house with lots of wall-mounted cameras to catch the action, lure some unsuspecting actors to the house, and kill them off one by one.
And… that’s pretty much all the there is. We do get a little bit more in the story department by following first time actor, Grace [M.J. Kehler; TV’s Act 7 (2019)], from her excitement at getting a role in her first film to her struggle for survival inside the locked house, but Incredible Violence isn’t what you’d call “burdened with narrative”.
If art house symbolism is your thing, though, Incredible Violence has it in spades. The themes that twist through the film touch on everything from the #MeToo movement to career desperation and gender disparity experienced by actors. By far the most obvious touchstone in the film has to do with obedience to authority taken to the extreme; the “just following orders” phenomenon famously studied by psychologist Stanley Milgram with his Shock Experiment back in 1963.
While the story is nearly non-existent and the characters are all but generic, Incredible Violence is relentless. In spite of its name, the movie isn’t incredibly violent. However, it’s a psychically exhausting experience as it devolves from a sometimes comedic first half to a gruelling, occasionally surreal, and often uncomfortable second half.
The special effects are actually a bit lackluster for a slasher film, which was surprising. Luckily, set decoration, claustrophobic camera angles, and a great music selection make up for it. Unfortunately, the lack of a story and a cast of characters who all tend to blur together are difficult obstacles to overcome.
Overall, writer/director G. Patrick Condon (the real one) shows promise and a willingness to experiment; both good things in my book. While his debut feature film doesn’t quite hit the mark — unless you’re in the mood for some art house weirdness — he’ll for sure be a genre creator to keep an eye on in the future.
Incredible Violence is currently available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Vudu as well as several Cable Video-On-Demand services.
Review by Robert Zilbauer.