Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

2019 | R | 112 Minutes

Fantasy | Thriller | Mystery | Horror

Big money artists and mega-collectors pay a high price when art collides with commerce. After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on thos...

Overall Rating

5 / 10
Verdict: So-So

User Review

  • Velvet Buzzsaw attempts to creatively cut through contemporary commercialism but slices itself in half. The subjectivity of art is one that is often discussed amongst many people. Whilst someone might view a pile of newspapers on a wooden floor as rubbish, another may view as a piece of extrasensory masterclass in art. Critiquing another's work may make or break their career, and so I find myself reviewing this satirical horror as an ironic gesture. Gilroy found much fame with his directorial debut 'Nightcrawler', however his proceeding films (including this) have not even come close. A mysterious death is witnessed to which an array of paintings soon make their way into the mainstream of prestigious contemporary art galleries. However, as more peculiar deaths occur, an art critic believes the paintings are spiritual and could be the primary cause.

    A satirical commentary on the greed and overwhelming wealth of art dealers, and how they unfairly monopolise on visual creations that should be seen by everyone. Those that live off the profitability of the art that they sell, soon meet their demise as the paintings in this film temporarily come to life. An interesting premise that is disappointingly unexplored as Gilroy attempts to creatively balance satire, horror and drama. Unfortunately for him, each aspect is undercooked and merges into one splat of dullness. Gilroy's acute directing style from before has almost "completely evaporated". For a film about art, one would've expected some creative flair or atleast one ingeniously designed shot. Alas, much like the schlocky horror scenes, the boring direction made the film feel incredibly cheap and basic. Frustrating! Why? Because the talented cast, aside from Ashton who was diabolically dreadful, all gave excellent performances. Gyllenhaal especially (the beautiful beast that he is) was sensational yet again as a bisexual art critic. His mannerisms and snobbish behaviour exhumed a high-profile individual perfectly. He almost singlehandedly saved this film, but unfortunately was given a simplistic script that focused on skewing the world of art instead of developing its characters. The horror element didn't work for me either. Aside from one or two well executed chills, particularly the robotic sculpture in the storage facility, all the visuals looked horrific and mostly consisted of jump scares.

    It's safe to say the vibrancy of this picture is in Gilroy's commentary on the high-end art industry, but it's not the artistic statement he had in mind and is another case of squandered potential. He had a blank canvas in his hands, and yet chose to use dull watercolours as opposed to bright oils.