Made on behalf of troubled independent filmmakers the world over, G Patrick Condon’s debut feature Incredible Violence is a bizarre story about how far you might have to go to finish your film, murder included. For those who enjoyed the savvy genre awareness of Scream, Cabin in the Woods, or Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Incredible Violence offers a more subtle, grassroots, and arguably intriguing take on a self-aware slasher.
After squandering the budget given to him by a secret organisation, a young filmmaker (Stephen Oates playing Condon) desperately seeks a way to make a film quick and cheap. After brainstorming at a bar, he decides to hire a trio of actors, lock them in an isolated cabin crammed with security cameras and locked doors, then send them pages of the script a day at a time. As each day passes, the script gets more and more depraved, and the actors more unhinged.
It’s a cool premise and Condon is clearly having fun. In many ways, it’s about the competition of a capitalist film industry, which makes it vaguely postmodern. Condon’s wry blend of scuzzy cabin horror, 2002’s My Little Eye, fourth wall breaking, and the Stanley Milgram experiment is as intriguing as it sounds. There’s flashes of boldness to his postmodern thinking, a garage quality to his gore, and clearly a head full of thoughts on the dark underbelly of the film industry and the demoralising influence of stardom.
Allusions to a shady background group who funded his project are never quite fleshed out or rounded of, but the increasingly conspiratorial approach casts a dark web of intrigue over the film’s second half. As the actors are pushed further and further into deplorable behaviour, our director is forced to alter the game, get involved and, well, Condon has some surprises in store I wouldn’t want to spoil. Suffice to say, things get hella tense and very messy.
Earlier I mentioned a few fun self-aware horror films which could be classed as Postmodern in a vague way, though Condon doesn’t nail that as satisfyingly as he could. As opposed to going with the “hey look we’re a horror movie, did you notice?” thing, he goes for a more alluring Lynchian, Haneke-style self-awareness, but often without the goods to back it up. Questions are raised but not enough of them unfurl in a satisfying way. Ambiguity is great, but Condon’s variety is mostly for thrills. That doesn’t stop him achieving some really cool Meta moments, it just stops those moments feeling like they accumulate towards something grander.
Even though some of the film’s most interesting ideas are left unfulfilled, Incredible Violence is still a tantalising debut and one of the bolder Indy offerings to hail from Canada in a while. Condon is ambitious, interesting, and can execute a thrill ride no problem, so this is worth checking out if you’re bored of daft vapid low-end slashers.
Scott Clark | [rating=3]
Comedy, Horror | Canada, 2018 | NC15 | Dead By Dawn 2019 | Dir.G. Patrick Condon | M.J. Kehler, Stephen Oates, Michael Worthman, Kimberley Drake, Erin Mick