Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler (2014) was nothing short of brilliance, Jake Gyllenhaal gave a super performance and the film was beautifully shot, written and directed. You would therefore assume Gilroy’s next film with Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead would be equally brilliant. Unfortunately Velvet Buzzsaw is nothing like Nightcrawler and extremely short of brilliance. The film follows Gyllenhaal as an art critic who stumbles across some lost art work which comes with some super natural baggage. There are many things I disliked about this film and very few things I liked.
The film features an impressive cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Toni Collette, John Malkovich and Zawe Ashton, however none of this cast manages to deliver any real performance of note. The films is very obviously partly a piece of satire however the performances felt so over the top and theatrical to the point that the characters just annoyed me. Despite being very obvious satire no real comedic effect came from it. Furthermore, as well as lacking any real comedy it definitely lacked any tension or fear. Even if the film was suspenseful and tense I would struggle to be drawn in through it as the film never made me care about the characters due to their apparent greed and annoyance. This could have worked brilliantly if each greedy, annoying character met some gruesome, horrifying end but they didn’t. The deaths were particularly boring and un original for a horror film, which is especially frustrating as the concept could have lead to some extremely creative and interesting on screen deaths. Every time someone died I didn’t find myself with either a sinking feeling of disappointment or a satisfying feeling of pleasure, I just sort of felt nothing. I also felt as if the script was trying to be funny and satirical but was generally pretty poor and one dimensional, no depth or wit to the satire which just made the dialogue a bit of a bore. In addition, the super natural forces in the film are never really properly explored you just kinda accept they’re there, which is a shame as at the core I do believe this film had a half decent idea behind it.
Credit where it’s due however this film does have some very striking cinematography, as you’d expect from cinematographer Robert Elswit (Nightcrawler, There Will be Blood). However, the great cinematography accounts for very little when the rest of the film lacks any depth or interest.
Overall this film was a huge bore for me, apart from the cinematography i liked barely anything about the film and found nothing to draw me into the narrative. The annoying characters, lack of tension, poor script and badly told narrative all add up to one big failure in my opinion. Shame that Dan Gilroy couldn’t deliver on a decent enough idea with a world class cast behind it.