Film Review: Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

by - February 08, 2019

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) is a horror film distributed by Netflix. This movie comes from the team behind the critical hit Nightcrawler, as director Dan Gilroy and star Jake Gyllenhaal work together once again. This film tells the story of an art critic (Gyllenhaal) who is in the process of putting together an art collection. He stumbles across an anonymous set of art which he puts on display, and from that moment chaos happens as people working in the art gallery start mysteriously dying.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix

The trailer for this new film only came out a few weeks before Netflix dropped the movie, but it was all that everyone was talking about. I loved how insane the movie looked, and not only just the horror aspects. As someone that almost went down the art route in life, I loved the idea of seeing the art business in a satirical manner. I also was expecting a lot from the pair working together again, as I have only heard fantastic things about Nightcrawler.

The performances in the film overall are fantastic. Gyllenhaal is given a fantastic role here, and has some brilliant comedic moments. Another person that stands out in the cast is Toni Collette as Gretchen, a fellow colleague in the art world. Collette is one of the greatest actresses working to date, and she proved earlier last year that she shines in the horror genre. The last moment with her was a little over the top and ridiculous, but everything else about her performance and characterisation was great and I wish we had more from her in the film.

This film does go down in quality though unfortunately, and a part of that is down to Zawe Ashton's performance as Josephina, an assistant and admin for the art gallery as well as becoming a love interest for Gyllenhaal. Her character either seemed to be written flat and expressionless, or that is down to her performance. She is not quite up to the level of Gyllenhaal and Collette in her career, and unfortunately it shows here. I also just felt bored with her story lines, as I really didn't think it carried anything to the overall story.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix

That is unfortunately the main problem with the film. There wasn't a clear direction in the script to create a coherent story. There seemed to be two different tones that this film was wanting to explore: satirical and horror. However, it splits the film in two almost to try and get both perspectives out, and we do not get enough of either of them to leave me satisfied. There was one great aspect that stands out to me and reflects the tone I wanted throughout. I really enjoyed the funeral scene, as it fully explored the satirical aspect. Along that, the ending was fantastic in highlighting the horror aspects of the film. I wish the entire film took more inspiration from those two scenes in particular.

I also felt that despite being a film about art and visual pieces, the cinematography felt flat in this film. There are definitely a couple of gorgeous shots, sure, but nothing that particularly stood out. They never go far enough with the art that they have, and push it to create a darker and more meaningful impact. They had such an interesting and unique concept for a horror/satirical film, and overall they didn't go far enough to create a message or leave me hooked.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix
Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) - source: Netflix

It seems that the overall consensus of this film is that it is disappointing. I love Gyllenhaal as an actor, and his character had so much potential. However, the script has left him and the cast down by not going for a clear vision and making a hooking film. The build up took too long and I was already out of the film before the horror came in. This is not worth the nearly two hour run time, and I would skip it.

2/5

Have you seen Velvet Buzzsaw yet? Were you disappointed by it, or did you personally enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.

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