[Fantasia 2020 Review] 'For the Sake of Vicious' is a Bloody Halloween Brawl that Serves Up Cathartic Chaos
I think we're all entitled to a good scream—a throaty roar to expel some of our collective 2020 anxieties and anger...
...For the Sake of Vicious, having just made its World Premiere during the Fantasia Film Festival, embodies this expelling of rage in a bloody Halloween siege serving up cathartic chaos.
Written and directed by Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen, the film begins abruptly with nurse Romina (Lora Burke) discovering an unconscious man covered in blood in her kitchen. Just as she attempts to call the police, a second man appears and tries to subdue her. After a brief scuffle, the attacker reveals himself to be Chris (Nick Smyth), the father of a past patient of Romina's. We learn that the unconscious body belongs to the man Chris claims is responsible for the rape of his daughter.
What ensues is a brisk 80 minutes of torture, terror, and truly excessive bloodshed. The film is evenly split into two distinct halves. The first forty minutes are dedicated to Romina becoming an unwilling participant to a kidnapping. Chris uses all manner of impromptu torture techniques to extract the truth from his hostage Alan (Colin Paradine), ultimately leading to him taking a hammer to Alan's knees and face.
But it isn't as clear cut as it may seem.
Chris continues to champion that Alan is guilty, despite a court clearing him of any wrongdoing. Each piece of potential evidence Chris introduces is dismissed with a rational explanation, which begins to make Romina question who is worth believing.
This interrogation is fueled by the trio's performances that more or less get the job done in establishing the parameters of the film. It does begin to feel a tad long-winded, with moments drawn out and several retreading already established narrative developments. The performances themselves facilitate the narrative decently enough, establishing clear character motivations and the like. Though as the narrative begins to feel drawn out, their performances struggle under the weight. And just as the first half of the film begins to outstay its welcome, the main course of carnage is served.
What ensues is an unflinching 40-minute siege on Romina's home from a gang of Halloween masked killers. They are there for one thing: to kill everyone in the house. Which, coincidentally, allows grieving father Chris the catharsis he so desperately needs.
For the Sake of Vicious approaches violence with a gratuitous pulpiness that'd be right at home during a grungy midnight showing slasher. Characters suffer excessive stab wounds and hemorrhage gallons of blood. They must employ household items as tools of war, as it's a close quarter's bloody brawl for survival. Eyes are extracted with hammers, Halloween lights are used as garrote wire, and glass shards are used to flay flesh. If it isn't nailed down, it'll be used as a weapon. The film serves as a full-frontal assault on decency and scratches, or, rather, punctures that slasher horror itch nicely.
While the film's violence is certainly memorable, it is occasionally undercut by close up camera work that can momentarily skew the viewer's perception of what is happening. More often than not, Carrer and Eveneshen allow the violence to shine and truly deliver on the film's gratuitous bloody premise.
A fantastic score from Foxgrndr compliments this Halloween night home invasion that adds a sense of sleek style to the gruesome violence. Synth heavy bass is evocative of the characters’ uncertainty about what is coming through the door next. In more ways than one For the Sake of Vicious reminded me of the 2012 video game Hotline Miami, as it pairs an adrenaline-pumping soundtrack with fast and furious violence. This marriage of style and violence makes for a satisfying bit of late-night pulp.
For as much as I enjoyed the film's second half, keeping your expectations for its narrative in check is a must. While For the Sake of Vicious' plot serves its purpose well enough, it feels as if it could have been refined or even condensed slightly. That being said, I found its pursuit and championing for excessiveness to alleviate most of my grievances. The film’s exploration of violence within an atmosphere that basks in chaos makes for a memorable piece of bare-knuckle brawling home invasion horror.
By Jay Krieger