What starts as a profile on a biker gang celebrating at a remote house in the woods becomes a hillbilly version of Funny Games before quickly morphing into something else entirely. That sort of brass has to be admired, but that doesn’t mean that the movie is all that worthwhile.
Cody (Cory Knauf) is out of jail and back with the biker gang he was born into, but he’s solemn and calmer than the rest of his gang. As they celebrate his mother’s 50th birthday, Michelle (Tiffany Shepis), the girl he’d been in love, with flaunts her new relationship in front of him, and a new girl comes into his life. Then, everyone gets attacked by a supernatural gang of ageless missing persons from the 1950s who hold them hostage until they give up a Michelle who’s been transformed into a violent animal.
None of that makes any sense, and it’s not supposed to. Still, it’s not like the ideas are all that convoluted. Essentially, The Violent Kind attempts to create a drama about life in a biker gang as an introduction to the characters before turning the whole thing on its head with a deranged group that only laughs at gun shots and knife wounds.
Unfortunately, it’s really that opening sequence and its flat dialog and stale acting that doesn’t kick start the film the way that it could have been. In fact, with a better first half hour, it could have been an entirely different film filled with characters to relate to and care about. Not a single one of the actors in the biker gang has any charisma or ability to deliver lines without stepping all over themselves. The writing doesn’t do them any favors, either.
When things start to get spooky, Michelle ends up badly hurt and turns ravenous and bloodthirsty. Enter the hep cats – a pompadoured leader that appears to have more energy than an electric fence, a ska suit-wearing sidekick, a silent muscle man with headphones on, and two scantily clad ladies who crawl on the floor and bark at each other.
The appearance of this group and the revelation of the film’s real plot injects a lot into what looked like the bottom of a dumpster pile. Joe Egender – who plays the psyched up psychobilly leader of the group and happens to look as if Giovanni Ribisi and Ben Foster were slammed together forcefully – is the only actor worth watching out of the entire movie, but he’s a hell of a lot of fun. In fact, he’s so frenetic and interesting that it almost makes up for the deficit created by everyone else.
The Violent Kind seems to grow and grow on its own by changing what the story is really about, and it isn’t as jarring as other films that switch horses midstream. It’s almost as clean a transition as The Descent, but not quite. The violence and gore of the movie are fairly standard – with a knuckle-full of brawls, a few bloody attacks, and the smaller moments of torture inflicted on the gang as they attempt to protect the girl that tried to eat them just hours earlier.
So, yes, the logic of the film is almost completely absent, and that would be fine if it was fun, but half of it is a complete chore only bolstered by the spark of life delivered midway through. It’s another interesting exercise in a concept that is absolutely not executed with any writing skill or acting presence. Writer/Directors The Butcher Brothers were clearly inspired by Funny Games and the idea of a group of strangers holding people hostage in their own home (one of the characters even repeatedly talks about having fun and games during the sequence), and the end seems straight out of a ton of science fiction films, but it’s only the filler that’s derivative. The concept, the central innovation of the movie is a great one, and it’s tragic that it couldn’t be handled better to create an over all experience.