Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
Director: Dan Gilroy | Runtime: 1h 53mins | Horror, Thriller
A mysterious set of paintings come into the possession of assistant Josefina (Zawe Ashton) when the artist dies in her building. When the paintings take the art world by storm, a number of art world’s top names succumb to the paranormal powers of the art.
Netflix’s recent film success show real progression in quality, and in hopes of continuing such a good run they put their faith in acclaimed writer/director Dan Gilroy, and since Gilroy’s only other director credits come from the widely acclaimed Nightcrawler (2014) and Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017), it seems like a bankable decision on Netflix’s part.
Velvet Buzzsaw, as a satire on the art world, is wonderfully entertaining. It may not be visionary but the entire cast, all on equal level, have so much fun with their roles and the world around them. whether it be Gyllenhaal as the eccentric art critic, Rene Russo as an ex-punk manager or even John Malkovich in a much more subdued role, each one is a product of the world Gilroy is trying to imitate, creating something really enjoyable for a viewer to relish in.
Unfortunately though the film is a satire/horror hybrid, and it’s the latter that really brings the final product into the realm of average. Riding on the most basic of horror cliches, Velvet Buzzsaw struggles to keep the quality of the horror on the same level of it’s satire, as without explanation or reason these paintings cause complete psychological and physical anarchy to the people of the art world. While ambiguity is never a crime, it’s the unexplained nature of the paintings that leave the film less ambiguous and feeling more like its incomplete.
While the films unique voice of horror/satire hybrid is left as a relatively quiet one by horror cliches, there is still entertainment in abundance. If you watch it for anything, watch it for Gilroy’s world building, as he effortlessly paints a picture of not just the art world, but the fierce people that occupy it.