The first thing that draws you to Velvet Buzzsaw is its stunning cast – Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton, John Malkovich and plenty of others. Billed as a thrill and horror film, well if you believe the trailer it is, it’s really a deeply satirical take on the vacuous and cut throat profiteering nature of the art world and galleries in particular.
To go into great detail about Velvet Buzzsaw’s plot or themes would be to undo the film. The theme is pretty simple – trolling the gallery scene through killer paintings. This basic plot is brought to life by the performances, detailing, and the layering of the films commentary. Trash bags and dead bodies being mistaken for art installations are far from new jokes, but the way they are presented makes them hit home and reflects the characters. Little details like Gyllenhaal’s eyes becoming bloodshot as he looks at the art works that are to lead to the death of all that profit from them is a simple yet powerful touch, just as is Malkovich’s character silently picking up a glass of whisky for the first time in 15 years as he views the works.
The film is a little flat (as is reflected in the flatness of this review) with the satirical take on the art world moving from pastiche into dull, as the points of ‘horror’ just fail to get the heart racing. Despite this, the film as a whole stands up, it won’t do anything for those after a horror film, but for those after a more thoughtful and at times humorous film, it will fit the bill.(3.5 / 5)