Dan Gilroy’s latest film, Velvet Buzzsaw, hit Netflix Feb. 1. The film, which was pushed as an anticipated watch for 2019, had a lot to offer and was innovative for a horror movie, but does it necessarily fit the mold of horror?

Though the mislabeling of a horror is a big problem, the true problem was the lack of wholesome scares and a long build-up to anything scary. All the horror elements, namely deaths, were built into the trailer, which misguides the audience into thinking that there were more horror elements — when in fact there weren’t any.

One of the best aspects of the film that made the dragged-out exposition worth it were the deaths, though. Throughout the second half of the film, the death scenes were shown not in great in detail but enough to get the point across in the trailer. The deaths were innovative and artistic, unlike most horror movies. There was a poetic justice to the deaths, which was specific to each character. For example, gallery manager Gretchen (Toni Collette) bled to death after her arm was torn off by a metal orb exhibit.

It was frustrating to watch Gilroy incorporate the death scenes into the second half of the film, albeit a short amount of time, making the audience wait in anticipation for nearly an hour for the “horror” of the horror movie to make an appearance. It was monotonous and slow to sit through with lots of Los Angeles art-house lingo that didn’t make sense to much of the audience.

The criticism the film is receiving is from horror fans mostly. Fans of the genre are critiquing that the movie shouldn’t be classified as a horror movie, but a drama, suspense and even satire. Gilroy makes emphatic paces toward the duality of image versus safety.

Gilroy gives the audience a spectacular cast, which included Natalia Dyer, John Malkovich, Rene Russo, Daveed Diggs and Jake Gyllenhaal. It’s also important to give recognition to Gyllenhaal, who plays Morf Vandewalt, an art critic who can crush an artist’s dreams with a single tweet. Gyllenhaal gives dimension to Morf, who becomes obsessed with the film’s central paintings. It was easy to hate all the characters because of their shallowness and lackluster ability to independently think for themselves. The L.A. art scene also becomes a character in and of itself, which the audience, learns to hate.

The argument has been made of the film’s genre status. Netflix classified the movie as a drama and a thriller and Rotten Tomatoes classified it as a drama, mystery, suspense and comedy. But IMDb classified it as a horror, mystery and thriller. Strictly based off the deaths, comparisons of the film are being made to Final Destination. Based off the movie as a whole, the case can be made for the movie satirically commenting that money buys happiness.

All in all, Velvet Buzzsaw was not the greatest horror film, but it wasn’t the worst. It is not deserving of the criticism it’s receiving, but there are definitely ways the film could’ve been improved. The horror elements could have extended past the trailer for the movie to truly classify as a horror film. The cast was spot-on, and their performances were attractive and believable. Velvet Buzzsaw has a lot to say about the pop art scene, but not necessarily about horror. 

@eringardner_

eg245916@ohio.edu 

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