A nuclear family sits unemotional in their living room glowing in the light of a TV screen. The Velvet Buzzsaw herself, Rene Russo’s Rhodora Haze, walks in seconds later with a distinct sense of skepticism in her eye. The scene is beautiful, but it lacks the energy that made Ms. Buzzsaw carry it in her gallery in the first place. Something is just off. This snapshot perfectly captures the entirety of the movie, Velvet Buzzsaw has horrific beauty but there is very little below the surface.
The highlight of this movie is how director Dan Gilroy blended visuals from fine art and classic horror. The entire movie pops with color that stands out among horror films and really emphasizes the satire of the fine art scene. The sheer excess of everything in the film from how the characters dress to their mannerisms and their thirst for success sets the stage for the main plot line of the story while also playing into the over the top art styled horror effects that are the centerpiece and the best part of the film.
Unfortunately, these stunning shots and creative effects were undermined by the writing a few times. There were a few moments where the movie started to grab my attention, but then there would be a line that completely took me out of the scene and ruining the tone. Yes, the movie is satirical in nature but that’s still no excuse to have lines that jolt the viewer out of the mood of the movie. With writing that was just marginally more consistent, this film would be one of the better horror movies in recent memory but instead it just left me desiring a little bit more. However, the cast was able to help lessen the blow of some of the misplaced lines in the movie.
The acting in Velvet Buzzsaw is pretty good throughout, but that doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering the talent of the cast. Toni Collette is brilliant again with her portrayal of a museum worker who turns to private art consulting but came to a tragic end. However, Collette was not the only actor who shined in this movie. Jake Gyllenhaal turned in another fantastic performance working with Dan Gilroy as he channels the same twitchy brilliance for Morf Vandewalt that made him so successful in 2014’s Nightcrawler. Rene Russo and John Malkovich also bring much needed intensity to their roles as a high powered gallery owner and her star client.
Despite weak writing in a few spots, Velvet Buzzsaw was very original and it was nice to see a horror movie that genuinely surprised me. It seems like a lot of horror films recycle the same plot over again, but setting Velvet Buzzsaw in the world of high powered art brought a very fresh feeling to the movie that brought out the best aspects of Dan Gilroy’s vision. With its great cast and truly spectacular death scenes, Velvet Buzzsaw adds a unique twist to the horror genre that really shows Netflix isn’t content with their recent success in horror films and is still looking to stretch the bounds of their movies.
Velvet Buzzsaw is now streaming on Netflix!