A Day of Violence DVD Review
Review Written by Daniel Benson
DVD Released by 101 Films
Written and Directed by Darren Ward
2009, Region 2, 91 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
DVD released on August9th, 2010
Giovanni Lombardo Radice as Hopper
Nick Rendell as Mitchell
Christopher Fosh as Chisel
Victor D. Thorn as Curtis Boswell
Peter Rnic as Madock
Steve Humphries as Smithy
Helena Martin as Suzy
Tina Barnes as Abbi
Forbes KB as Noodles
Pete Morgan as Danny
Back in the early nineties I crossed paths with Darren Ward, an aspiring British filmmaker. He was selling his self-made movie, Paura Il Diavolo, through the pages of Samhain, a popular horror fanzine at the time. Diavolo was Ward’s attempt to make a giallo in the style of his Italian directorial idols Bava, Fulci and Argento. This was in the analogue age, where digital video and editing movies on a home PC were the stuff of science fiction, so to actually bring a full length feature to fruition was a major achievement. It was followed up by a 15 minute short, Bitter Vengeance, which would later develop into the action flick Sudden Fury (1997).
At this point I lost track of Ward and his work, until I spotted the unmissable cover of A Day of Violence in the chart DVDs at my local supermarket. A chance meeting in a mutual Facebook friend’s comments section made a reconnection, and eighteen years on I find myself with a copy of his biggest profile film to date on my review pile.
Mitchell Parker (Nick Rendell), the central character in ADOV, is dead in a morgue with a massive hole in his gut within the first few minutes of his introduction. The film tells the story of how he ended up there.
Mitchell’s a low-rent hired thug who spends most of his time recovering debts for his underworld boss, but when he happens across an extra £100K while collecting from a washed-up drug dealer (Italian exploitation legend Giovanni Lombardo Radice), the temptation is too much to resist and he pockets the cash. What he doesn’t know is that the cash belongs to Boswell, a highly unsavoury underworld character that Mitchell has recently agreed to work for. Unfortunately for him, the dealer films the theft on his mobile phone, setting the clock ticking for the inevitable discovery of the thief’s identity.
To say what follows is brutal would be an understatement. True to the spirit of the Italian exploitation flicks that Ward cites as his influences, we are subjected to every last bone crunching, face pulping, genital shearing torture inflicted on various gang members. None of the ‘cut away and let the audience fill in the blanks’ that some filmmakers opt for, this is outrageous, in your face suffering of the strongest kind. In a way it’s almost a shame that ADOV is a violent crime thriller as this level of completely convincing physical effects work could work equally as well in a Saw-esque torture/revenge story and blow most of the competition out of the water.
It’s easy to focus on the violence in this film, yet strip that away and you are still left with a gritty thriller that is as entertaining and gripping as it is tightly paced and unflinching. Considering it’s a low to medium budget UK production I found it as compelling as anything I’ve seen recently with ten times the money spent. The cast is, across the board, pretty solid, except for Victor D. Thorn who is nowhere near as menacing and intimidating as the character Boswell requires. It’s mildly disappointing as he’s the only weak link in an otherwise strong chain.
It’s great to become acquainted with Darren Ward’s work once more, and I’ll look forward to seeing what is planned as the next feature. With a team of enthusiastic talent at his disposal I’d love to see him return to his roots and shoot a horror feature. In the meantime, check out A Day of Violence, it’s one day you won’t forget in a hurry.
Video and Audio:
A Day of Violence is presented in PAL 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen, with a DD2.1 audio track.
Extras include two cuts of the movie trailer, deemed 'soft' and 'hard', although even the supposedly soft trailer is pretty extreme in what gets shown.
The Making of a Day of Violence is a 25 minute behind the scenes feature that completes the extras. It crams a lot into it running time and gives an excellent glimpse behind the scenes. A genuinely interesting and enjoyable documentary piece.
Click on the cover to buy.
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