There is always that air of uncertainty in the first few minutes. Every movie that doesn’t waste time explaining every single character is delegating that job to the audience. Figure it out yourself. Competent directors don’t let insignificant details such as introductions take up a significant amount of screentime because they have a story to tell. The director of this one – Dan Gilroy is no slouch. Terrific screenwriter and a damn good director if we consider his previous outing with Gyllenhaal, the Nightcrawler. So what happened here?
Velvet Buzzsaw, a title that promises razor-sharp execution with a silky touch, is a satirical take on the contemporary art world of Los Angeles blended with horror. A world where the airiness and flash know no bounds. A place where everyone’s iPhone has a case that costs more than the cellphone itself, and the successful one’s residences would make billionaires flustered. It’s a fun premise, making the elite meet the supernatural. But to be honest, it is more fun observing how everything works in the said world rather than taking in the thrills it promised.
Morf Vandewalt – a name like that automatically qualifies a person to thrash art or collect it, I presume. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the conceited art critic by the book. The whole cast feels organic, each with a role to play. And therein lies one of the main problems – too many cooks. You bill too many actors for a bloated screenplay, and the result is an uneven one hour fifty minutes. There’s even an entire character whose sole purpose is discovering bodies – are you a K9 my dear, or are you just unlucky? You’ve got big problems if John Malkovich’s excellently-acted role doesn’t even participate in the plot because the scares aren’t the ace up your sleeve.
The thrills are cheap, and they do not land. The special effects are disappointing at times – hyperrealistic painting monkeys but fake-looking CGI blood? C’mon. Velvet Buzzsaw works neither as a horror nor as a satire. It is something new. It’s not something new that’s good.