Having starred in films like Goon, Tropic Thunder, and voicing Hiccup in the How to Train Your Dragon series, Jay Baruchel is most known for his comedic endeavors, with the ensemble comedy This Is the End, in which he, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and more actors played fictionalized versions of themselves existing in an apocalypse, being one of the closest projects he's come to full-blown horror. That all changes with his latest project, Random Acts of Violence, the metatextual slasher that explores the responsibility artists have for the violent imagery creators can put out into the world, based on the comic book from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. Not only does Baruchel venture into the genre world, but he directed, starred in, and co-wrote the project with Jesse Chabot. Random Acts of Violence lands on streaming service Shudder on August 20th.
Baruchel has been attached to the project for nearly a decade, with the actor detailing how the project has evolved over time.
"We've gone through so many versions of it that I don't even know I could definitively say how many drafts we did of it," Baruchel detailed to ComicBook.com. "When I think of its first iteration, it was kind of akin to a first record where I think you're just turning everything up to 11 and playing on top of each other. So we would just try to go as hard, as crazy ... everything was up to 11. We just tried to write the craziest bits that we could. And then it was like, 'Well do we even like this?' 'Cause it started off as what used to be called a 'potboiler.' It was a gig we got hired on and so we tried our best to write the thing to the best of our abilities. And then we grew up and we kept going back to the document. And we started seeing more and more of what we think it actually is."
He added, "I think, reflected in there, are kind of meditations and trying our best to reconcile being a Fangoria kid and having any kind of growing up and, not necessarily condemning stuff that I watched, but just making sure that I, at the very least, try to aim the same analysis at ourselves in terms of cinema and literature as we do when buying stuff at the grocery store. The bare minimum of knowing how much xanthan gum is in the thing. I might still buy it and elect to put xanthan inside me, but that's just ... you'd rather know, wouldn't you?"
While the filmmaker noted that his initial approach to the project was much more direct, it evolved into something much more metaphorical. Baruchel went on to note what he feels to be the same thematic elements of the two projects, which have noticeably different narratives.
"We were immediately struck by a really cool and compelling conceit in a guy being hunted, for all intents and purposes, by the monster he helps create," the filmmaker pointed out. "And that's just real strong and interesting and the book has all these beautiful little phrases and sentences, stuff like 'true art comes from inflicting pain on others.' Jesse and I, we went to art school together ... so the concept of having somebody with a POV of killing as a form of creative expression was like, it landed on us in a massive way. In sort of continuing the conversation that Palmiotti and Gray started and then in having it amongst ourselves and then having it go over the course of years and years. We started seeing all of this other energy that could potentially be in it that seemed to be correct and seemed ... nothing that we came up with was antithetical to the source material. It just seemed to serve it and it was all born of it."
He continued, "But really, I have to give credit where credit's due. Jimmy Palmiotti had no business being as encouraging and supportive as he was 'cause this is his book, that's one of his babies, but he was very early on and throughout the entire process was very encouraging, and knew that if the movie is gonna be a movie, it's going to be a different organism and that we've got to go through our process."
Given the success that Baruchel's This Is the End earned among fans, he noted that while we shouldn't expect a continuation of that narrative, Seth Rogen and Adam Goldberg have both joked that these actors should reunite for an all-new adventure in a different time period.
"The closest that I've heard, and this is a Seth and Evan question more than a me question, but the last time I heard was Evan saying something to the effect of, 'What I would like to see is you five or six dudes in a bunch of different settings,' so not sequels, but basically This Is the End in ancient Rome and then This Is the End in the American West and then all this whatever, but I don't know where it could possibly go," the actor admitted. "I know I'd be well up for it. But I guess we get kicked out of heaven or something. [No talks] beyond, 'It would be interesting to see you and Jonah hate each other in a different time period.'"
Fans can check out Random Acts of Violence when it hits Shudder on August 20th.
Are you looking forward to the new film? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!