INCREDIBLE VIOLENCE - "Twisted & Surreal"

It isn’t everyday that a filmmaker working within the horror genre will attempt to do something new and interesting with a tired cliché premise. More often than not the struggle is getting just enough footage to complete the film without going over budget, let alone running the risk of alienating the audience by creating something to unfamiliar.

The plot to just about any slasher movie can write itself and if you add a little found footage into the mix, the resulting 80+ minutes of movie will leave any seasoned horror fan rolling their eyes while thinking; “This again?”.

G. Patrick Condon manages to balance both with his film "Incredible Violence", which explores the real life film making pitfalls of the production and it’s actors while being set within the framework of a slasher/snuff found footage film.

It begins with a young filmmaker who has accepted the task of making “Hunting Party” - a horror film that has been financed by a faceless and very dangerous group – the mafia most likely. The problem is that Condon, played by Stephen Oates, has squandered the money, is short on ideas and is all out of time.

With his back against the wall, he casts a group of aspiring unknown actors who are willing to work for free if it means they might get some exposure. He directs them to a secluded woodland home that he has rented for a few weeks.

To keep his production costs low, he has decided to make a found footage film, fitting the entire house with security cameras and a printer in each room. He intends to direct his cast from the attic where he writes the script on the fly and prints it to the cast downstairs – similar to how "The Blair Witch Project" was made.

The cast is made up of the typical slasher movie fare who are directed to be sexy and party as Condon takes on a theater inspired masked persona, to lurk through the house at night, and prey upon the party goers one by one.

As this story builds to a climax, the film itself becomes meta as it figuratively and then literally turns it’s attention from the filming of a found footage slasher movie and toward the aforementioned “real life film making pitfalls”.

We see this in the actors cast in “Hunting Party”, as they all seem to embody a different stereotypical starving artist personality trope. The main character, Grace, played by M.J. Kehler, is an excellent example of this. She is the small town girl next door who lacks the formal training as an actor, but instead, has a dream. Her can do attitude suggests that nothing will stand between her and her goal of becoming an academy award winning star. So it should be no supersize that Grace finds her place as the final girl, while also proving to herself that he has what it takes to be a success – even exclaiming “I fuckin’ love movies!”.

The meta digs deeper as the mostly unseen director pushes his cast to preform nude and to endure or carry out acts of violence against one another. This violence and victimization is meant to parallel the horror story experiences of young and naive actors who are commonly taken advantage of by film directors and producers.

Within the film industry, there is no shortage of tales recounting unwanted pressure to do things on the set, or even worse, behind closed doors. In the wake of the Weinstein scandal and the #MeToo movement, "Incredible Violence" is proves to hold incredible relevance with much to say about the film making process and the industry as a whole.

The balance between narrative and commentary is blended together in a way that is twisted and surreal. To illustrate that point, I was reminded of David Lynch’s "Inland Empire" combined with some savvy ‘80s throwback.

While the film isn’t particularly scary, the more torturous moments do become quite uncomfortable to watch. The films tone even managed to get it banned in Germany according to the its IMDB trivia page. These scenes are really where the acting shines.

As the film begins, our in-movie cast seem likable and share moments of levity. But as the killing begins, the terror sets in and their acting range is really showcased. Each of the actors have their moment to shine, but it’s M.J. Kehler who steals the show with a performance that, in my opinion, ranks up there with Marilyn Burns in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre".

With all that said, I very much enjoyed what "Incredible Violence" had to offer, which is quite a bit considering it was filmed in only 15 days with a cast and crew who were locked inside their filming location for that entire time – echoing the plot of the film they were making.

"Incredible Violence" is a strong first outing for the Canadian G. Patrick Condon. I’m curious what he will tackle next as he has already proven willing to reach beyond the statuesque to do something new and different with such a well worn sub-genre.

"Incredible Violence" is currently available via DVD and all major VOD platforms.


★ ★ ★ ½

"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."