Velvet Buzzsaw – USA, 2019

‘All art is dangerous’

Velvet Buzzsaw is a 2019 American supernatural horror feature film written and directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler; writer of Kong: Skull Island).

The Netflix movie stars John Malkovich, Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Magnussen, Natalia Dyer, Toni Collette and Rene Russo.

Plot:

After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art…

Reviews:

” …the mystery involving the artist feels inconsequential and merely a way to work in a bit of carnage to mesh-up the genres in what’s meant to be a provocative way. Velvet Buzzsaw would have been more effective as pure satire, as Gilroy doesn’t seem to have an affinity for this genre.” Chris Bumbray, Arrow in the Head

Some who stumble across it on Netflix may find it too bizarre or wonder why Gilroy is spending so much time introducing us to the cast of characters rather than getting to the murders promised in the trailer. But if you simply let the film unfold and accept it as a wild ride with some valuable insights, then Velvet Buzzsaw is a blast from start to finish.” Matt Goldberg, Collider

“Gilroy possesses a mind that knows how on-the-nose certain cinema clichés are. So the question becomes, does he mean to smartly mock horror like he mocks art star egos, or cavalierly employ clichés in the oblivious interests of mediocre entertainment? That’s the conundrum Velvet Buzzsaw presents.” Ian Sedensky, Culture Crypt

” …there seems to be a reluctance from Gilroy to really push the film’s visual strangeness, which is sometimes lurid and unusual […] but used too sparingly. It’s as if the actors are being allowed full intensity in their performances but the film as a whole isn’t. In trying to be both horror and satire, has slightly fallen between two stools – to its detriment.” Lou Thomas, Den of Geek!

“There’s enough fun, writerly glee and actors enjoying their little rampages to make Velvet Buzzsaw a decent distraction for a couple of hours, but also something of a schizophrenic case all its own.” Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

“Even when the story dead ends and Gilroy’s commentary exhausts itself, these actors manage to drag the movie across the finish line. Several of them even get to enjoy some fantastically goofy (almost giallo-adjacent) death scenes along the way. Gilroy doesn’t know how to calibrate the story’s mild scares — if anything, his movie often seems to be scared of itself…” Claudette Barius, IndieWire

“It’s not a horror by any means, it’s just a waste of time and talent trying to show how critics of media are more up their arse then anyone ever can imagine […] Even the title makes no sense as it relates to nothing driving the story. Pointless.” Chris Gelderd, Letterboxd

“The key to getting on Velvet Buzzsaw’s level is understanding that the movie isn’t the kind of horror that affects you with tragic circumstances or cataclysmic misfortune. The baseline of the movie’s world is already a total horror show, and the killings are catharsis. The movie is, above all, a satire about bad people. When these characters get got, you’re supposed to be amused.” Sarah Szabo, Looper

“I found the horror stylings of the movie pleasantly old-school — oh no! a painting’s wild animals are moving, and they’re coming for you! — but I wonder whether they’ll satisfy contemporary Saw-crazy audiences. Gilroy’s pacing is adept, and the movie creates a what-will-happen-next tension, even as he continues to lather bile on his target.” Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“You know where the film is going the second the freaky paintings tease their true nature and there aren’t really any surprises in the end (even the inspiration for the film’s title is anticlimactic).  And did we mention how the film lacks any of the cinematic sophistication of Gilroy’s last two films? And it’s about the art world? ” Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

“As entertaining as the performances are, and as memorable as the characters may be, the fact of the matter is there’s not a whole lot to them. They’re comical figures who exist solely to be put in peril. It would be easy to decry this, and criticize Velvet Buzzsaw for lacking any real depth. But the movie is just too goddamn fun to get that upset.” Chris Evangelista, Slash Film

“Skewering trends more than individual artists, the movie conceives just one genuinely clever new piece — a giant, interactive silver sphere perforated with holes into which viewers are invited to insert their hands — while the rest serve mostly for ridicule…” Peter Debruge, Variety

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