Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

director: Dan Gilroy
release-year: 2019
genres: horror
countries: United States
languages: English

Jake Gyllenhaal is excellent as the amazingly named character, Morf. He has great mannerisms, delivery, and screen presence as a pretentious, homo-cum-bisexual art critic. He's full of whimsical insults like, "it swims in here."

Morf is a man of taste.

The exposition is mostly character building, introducing a rich world of hyper-pretentious artists, dealers and critics, and probably very intentionally suggesting that the world of high-value art is equally split between pieces of genius artistic integrity, and useless garbage that the brokers sell with the tactics of used car salesmen.

This is not a Phantasm sphere.

Morf's now-girlfriend finds an apartment full of creepy art, steals it, and it transitions rapidly into a supernatural horror movie.

The creepy art is only moderately creepy.

Unfortunately, they use a pretty poorly executed murder-mystery investigation as a plot device for revealing the horror bits. Suddenly a bunch of art collectors are also private investigators.

Suspicious Fire kills otherwise well-developing plot.

The pace drags a bit, in both exposition and rise. The talky bits are probably the best part; the dialogue is witty, believable, and entertaining, and the weirdo art people are fun. John Malkovich is fantastic, but really doesn't serve much purposeā€¦ well, besides from being John Malkovich. I would say the large network of character relationships take more time to develop than they provide in value to the plot.

There is only one John Malkovich.

After all of the characters are introduced and relationships defined and conflicts highlighted, there isn't enough time left to give the horror elements the time they need to develop. Instead, it basically turns into a fancy Final Destination sequel, with abstract modern art pieces as the vehicles of death.

Or is it a Phantasm sphere??

Each death seems rather hurried, and it fails to build up any real suspense for any of them. Perhaps more importantly, since the manner in which each person is killed has very little relation to any of the others, there's no build up of fear of any particular thing. Aside from the fact that some sort of art will vaguely be involved, the deaths aren't linked to each other. Some are highly physical, some are more psychological, one is just murdered by hand by a literal ghost.

Death by smudging.

After everyone is violently killed, the movie just ends abruptly without conclusion. You saw them all die, why are you still here? Roll credits.

Murder robots are the highest form of art.

The credits roll over a dance-like performance of John Malkovich producing his magnum opus in the sand on a beach, where the waves are gently erasing it even as he draws. This is a great time to think about the permanence, and lack thereof, of all things, and question whether art is only truly art when it is made for the artist himself rather than for prestige, wealth, or fame. And then you can ponder whether this relates to the film you just watched.

Starring Chris A. Centrella and Krystina Figg.