Velvet Buzzsaw takes an interesting idea and turns it into an unimpressive mess. While some aspects of the film are to praise, such as Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance, the mix of styles ultimately ends up diluting the film, taking away from the performaces.
The main problem with this movie is its lack of direction: while the story engages with many genres, including horror and comedy, none of them truly engage with each other, and they all end up being diluted. This is especially disappointing, considering that the mix of horror and comedy has been proven to be exhilarating when done well: Rocky Horror Picture Show and Scream are great examples of how these two genres, when combined properly, can create engaging, yet wildly different films. This is because, on a structural level, scares and jokes are similarly set up: they both have a build-up and release. In addition, comedy allows the viewer to release tension built up by the horror, making the scares unexpected and therefore, more effective. However this mastery, as shown in Velvet Buzzsaw, is hard to achieve.
The viewer is unlikely to truly engage with the movie.
In this movie, the horror element is truly inefficient. While offering interesting visuals, the creators fail to build any tension in the viewer. These scenes not only do not build up tension, but also take away from the story: because they are not blended in the movie seamlessly, they always feel either forced or unnecessary.
This movie is clear in its intent to send a message about the pretentiousness of art critics, and what the responsibility of the job can end up doing to a person. However, what the actual message might be is unclear. The viewer is unlikely to truly engage with the movie because of the messy tone and the presence of too many characters, most of which are neither memorable nor impactful.
There are some redeeming qualities in this movie. Jake Gyllenhaal and Toni Collette for example offer fun performances, indicating that the actors knew what kind of movie they were making. In particular, they helpfully enhance the parody aspect, making the entire film more bearable to watch.
Rating: 2/5 stars