Film Review: Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Review by Dylan Rowen

Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix)

Dir. Dan Gilroy

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Jack Gyllenhaal stars in Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix, 2019). Image via.

A satire on the increasingly commercialized contemporary art world, art gallery elitism, and pretentious art, Netflix’s new horror-thriller Velvet Buzzsaw unfortunately misses its mark in trying to be — and trying to say — too much at once.

After a collection of paintings by a previously unknown artist starts literally killing money-obsessed art critics, art installation workers, and gallery owners, we are thrown into piecing together a messy narrative set loose within the cutthroat petty art world of Los Angeles.

The setup is essentially Art Attack! but with more blood, guts, and gore.

It’s good to see studios take risks with films like these, however while the off-kilter ideas may initially sound clever, the film fails to deliver us the satisfactory ending we deserved. Jake Gyllenhaal deserves praise as the bisexual art critic Morf Vandewalt, who is increasingly caught up in this supernatural snare. Its star-studded cast, particularly Toni Collette and John Malkovich, provide an interesting dynamic that deals with derivative art and meaningless horror.

That being said, the cast can’t lift the film out of the same pretensions and pitfalls of what it critiques.

Director Dan Gilroy gives us a less than satisfying romp into a clunky, sterile, and superficial world into which I didn’t really care too much for the characters on screen, but its ideas and promises left me watching to the end.

If you’re bored and in the mood for a little something with more substance than recent direct-to-Netflix films, then I definitely recommend watching Velvet Buzzsaw, preferably with a friend who you can talk to about it after.

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