Have you ever laid your eyes on something so strange and repulsive that it makes your skin crawl a bit? For me that was my initial reaction to when I first gazed upon this “thing” from Ujicha’s Violence Voyager. This odd-looking fetus Golem with some boom box shaped head and the eyes of a salted slug reminds me of something out of 50’s EC Horror comic or something that would battle with Jason and the Argonauts; it is certainly a sight that grabbed my interest.
I first learned about this flick from a great review by Mechanical Anime Reviews (Scott, cool guy) who gave some nice thoughts on the film and left me with the impression of it sounding interesting. So when full disclosure, TriCoast asked me if I would also want to watch and talk about this movie, I was excited to do so.
I’m guessing every review about this film wants to talk about the style of animation used and for good reason. Violence Voyager is a Gekimation film: the use of hand drawn backgrounds and characters moving in real time. The only exception to this being certain effects across the film in which water, fire, blood, and goop are incorporated in interesting ways. The animation style alone is what makes this film a truly unique experience, honest I’ve been researching the style and mostly what came up was either discussing this film or Ujicha’s other works such as The Burning Buddha Man (2013). The use of this auteur and exotic style begs the questions does it hold merit outside of being different just for the sake of being different?
It feels reminiscent to some of the animation styles of old, giving off a similar impression of the likes of Clutch Cargo or some of the cinematic toy commercials for G.I. Joe or the Transformers. I think mutating the limited style into a Junji Ito horror setting is intrinsically interesting and effective. It’s a little unsettling that there’s a lack of liveliness to the overall presentation but the art holds up that you don’t feel robbed of emotion or setting.
I know Scott in his review mentioned how the effects of water or fire or goop was detrimental to the immersion but for me it just made everything more visceral and surreal. It gets a few “eww” reactions out of just how gross some of these effects break the overall style. I believe some are actual shots of water in the environment and other times they use green screen stock footage which is a neat trick to look out for.
Maybe this is nitpicking but there’s so many models or art used that towards the end it started to feel a little silly. In the second half of the movie I swear there’s a wardrobe change every 10 minutes and it’s just trying to convince you so hard that this had a budget and work put into that I don’t know, it felt a little much. I don’t think it’s a thing that will really bother most people but it’s something that to me felt as transparent as Porgs in Star Wars or whenever Batman shows up with a new device/toy to show-off. I know what you are doing but at the same time, I would rather have too much than too little and the film definitely is fruitful in showcasing the results of the arduous labor of love project.
The Dub Voice Acting
When the animation isn’t as animated there becomes a heavy burden on the voice talent to connect us with these characters and portray their emotional state. I like to think there’s two different types of dubbing: voice acting and line reading; in the case of Violence Voyager it feels like a mixed bag. For the most part the casting is phenomenal and all the voices are appropriate for the characters, I don’t want to get to heavy into speculation because you don’t know with smaller productions like this how factors of: how much time did they have in the booth, how much information did the actors have about certain scenes, how many available days did they have of certain actors and such that I’m not blaming anyone but I do feel some lines fell flat.
I know it’s not talent based because Debi Derryberry is a constant and respected professional and a lot of her lines seem same tone, same inflection. The main character’s dad is maybe the worst offender of this, I think he’s perfect for the role and I like this more stoic character but you’re in the middle of some horrific stuff that you’d really think that maybe the cadence of his voice would change just once.
On the other hand, whoever is playing the antagonist seems to be having the time of his life and is really going for it. That performance really adds the foreboding and sinister nature of the character that every time he appears his psychotic vibes fill the screen. I also enjoyed the main female performance which going based on trailer posted on TriCoast’s website I believe is Xanthe Huynh (Ui Hirasawa – K-On!, Menma – Anohana, Haru Okumura – Persona 5) with that resume surprise I really enjoyed her character. Maybe it was because her character had the most reason to sound confused and have no idea what’s going on but it sounded genuine.
Overall, I think it’s a solid dub: characters are portrayed well, the talent is there, it’s got a fun energy to it. Just every once and a while it’s a little wooden and you want just a little more flavor on some of those deliveries.
Nathanael Hood, writer for Unseen Films made a great point in his review when he put it rather succinctly “I can’t emphasize this enough: child killing is not my definition of a good time”. For me that’s the major detriment for this film and I think it’s perfectly reasonable that given the grotesqueness and visual harshness of this film that I feel safe in saying it isn’t for everyone.
Its darker elements and unabashed creativity makes it a match made in heaven for the audience of Adult Swim. If you’re a fan of Robot Chicken’s subversion of properties into mature and brutal realities than this film will probably interest, you. Our main character, Danny Torrance from The Shining goes into the mountains with Asian Jimmy Neutron in hopes of having a reunion with their friend from the next town over. That’s as much plot detail as I’m going to give you. The fun is venturing into the unknown, I don’t want to rob you from a potential leap of faith.
Like most horror it’s a simple set-up and the dread is in the details. I certainly, got invested in the atmosphere of it, the exploration and sense of horrific adventure bleeds throughout this film. In the voyeuristic element of film, it does entice you with the possibilities that await, and then effectively is downright scary and makes the situation as uncomfortable, and frightful as imaginable.
My disappointment with the story comes with that it is a rather hallow tale, I don’t know if I could identify a defining principle or thematic message delivered to the audience. For the most part this film is a cheap thrill and that’s the interesting part about it.
Besides from the adult imagery, this is just a kid movie. It’s an interesting dynamic where the plot, characters, and setting all feel like your typical Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, or any cheesy Halloween Special. The story is just as shallow as these kids tale which is unfortunate if you’d want more to chew on, but I feel that it embraces the unflinching nature of the flick to be this raw Grimm fairy tale of a children’s media story masquerading as a typical affair only to present bone-chilling real consequences and peril delightfully delivered to an outrageous degree.
TriCoast is a media company based in California that produce, manage, and distribute films such as this one. Not only were they kind enough to grant me access to the film a little early, they were kind enough to answer a few questions I had on the PR process:
- What interests you or attracted you about working with such an exotic and unique property such as ‘Violence Voyager‘?
We acquired this film to represent for worldwide sales & U.S. distribution. Though I didn’t pick it, I would assume they chose this film because of its uniqueness, rave reviews during festivals & innovative horror-like genre. DarkCoast is TriCoast Worldwide’s horror label.
2. Why did you decide to reach out to WordPress sites/bloggers?
We reach out to various types – from placing announcements/reviews in the trades (like Variety or The Hollywood Reporter) to influencers, to bloggers, etc. We enjoy getting honest reviews from all different types of people & it helps spread the news of the release of the film.
3. What would you say to someone maybe interested in media related PR, or what should people know about your job?
Hm.. I would say something interesting that I’ve learned (specifically with independent film distribution) is that it’s HARD to get people to go to the movies, especially when it’s not some major blockbuster!! I love going to the movies, so it’s pretty wild to me!
Thanks again to TriCoast PR for sending me the film and being kind enough to answer my questions. I think they are doing a phenomenal job generating buzz for this film. Honestly, doing this for them was such a joy and really brought me back to my days of my brief stint with the now defunct Movie Pilot (They even called me Kat just like my old employers/mentors did). If you are interested in seeing this film, I have good news for you.
DarkCoast will release Violence Voyager onto digital streaming platforms Oct. 21 (Amazon, DirecTV, FlixFling, VImeo on Demand, Vudu, FANDANGO and AT&T).
If I haven’t convinced you, to give it a try yet maybe your curiosity will. I’ve been pretty non-specific throughout this review, but I always enjoy those images that circulate around Marvel movies of random images that mean absolutely nothing unless you’ve seen the film. So, in order for this image down below to make sense, you’re going to have to see the film for yourself and see what the heck this means?
Thanks to everyone reading this, be sure to check out the film as well as Mechanical Anime Reviews and Scheiguy the Storytella over at Animated Observations’ take on this film. Very thankful to TriCoast for letting me talk about their film. I still have plenty of spooky tales to share so be sure to follow me on WordPress or Twitter if you haven’t already and until TriCoast gives me a copy of Woodstock or Bust; I will see you at the movies!
Images are from Violence Voyager [credit: Dark Coast Films]