Movie Review: Velvet Buzzsaw (2018)

There really isn’t much to say about this one other than the fact that I’m not looking forward to anymore Netflix Original films. Jake Gyllenhal (who plays a veritable wet noodle of an art critic who just needs to come out of the closet about his feelings for other men and stop chasing women) becomes tangled in this web of conspiracy and horror where his colleague happens upon a bunch of old paintings from some crazy old man who lived in the apartment room next to her. He was apparently trying to burn them all before he’d been murdered, leaving hundreds of his pieces remaining. Of course, this crazy old man’s work is quite valued in the art world for some reason and despite the old man’s warnings, the colleague decides to host an art gallery for this work. Dease had a hard life as he was abused and thrown into insane asylums, though somehow found his way into the occult and started using his own blood in the paintings in order to turn them into evil omens, which in some cases makes them come alive. Sounds like a horror until you consider the pacing, and even the wit of John Malkovich couldn’t save this fucking film.

The pacing is the real horror here and forgive me if I sound like Gyllenhal’s character when I say this, because the film seemed to focus quite a bit on negative opinions of art; but asking me to sit through this was utter torture. If you look at the trailers for the film, you don’t see what the film actually offers. Only a couple of the paintings come to life and only a few useful special effects are utilized when this occurs. The punk-rocker turned businesswoman that the film’s moniker came from is stupidly killed by her buzzsaw tattoo. The female protagonist is literally killed by color as she becomes a part of a painting. The workman, one of two normal characters in the film, was killed by being pulled into a painting with monkeys that was somehow sitting in an abandoned gas station. Thankfully, the other normal character in the film; a rough and tumble artist who is more accustomed to the street life than the art world, manages to survive. Despite all the murders, the art somehow ends up getting sold on the street.

If the film has any redeeming qualities, it’s that the dishevelled hipster superhero thing looks creepy as hell when it comes to life and starts chasing Gyllenhal’s character. Other than that, I waited forty-five minutes into a horror film for the first murder. If this is what hipsters are calling horror these days, then I’ll pass. Velvet Buzzsaw was an absolute waste of my time and energy. The film focuses far too much on the art gallery and character relations than it does the horror. I’m sorry to tell you, but I really don’t care that much about the characters in a horror film. I’m not walking away in anger that people have been killed in a genre where this is so commonplace. In fact, I was starting to get worried that people weren’t being killed and that I had been foolishly suckered into an art film masquerading under the guise of horror. The ending credits scenes were even nonsensical and bizarre as John Malkovich danced around drawing things on the beach. I have no idea what in the blue hell this was supposed to be, but it’s one of the worst attempts at horror I have ever seen in my life. The film needed to be about an hour and a half shorter, and that’s being nice.

If you want a great interactive horror experience that focuses around an art gallery, just play Ib. I would have jumped for joy if they’d just adapted that. Velvet Buzzsaw is almost like a poor man’s Ib and that’s saying quite a bit as Ib is a Japanese indie game. I wouldn’t want anyone else to be tortured in the way that I was, so I simply cannot recommend this film to anyone.

(1hr 53mins)


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