Film Review: Velvet Buzzsaw

Velvet Buzzsaw: an arty horror/drama with a killer cast but a not so killer storyline. When you combine the talents of Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette and Natalia Dyer, the product should be a fine example of quirky entertainment. However, Velvet Buzzsaw left me feeling confused and a little unsatisfied.


Directed by Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler, Kong: Skull Island, The Bourne Legacy), Velvet Buzzsaw takes us into the elitist world of hoity toity art dealers and critics, where ingenuity is the key to success. Everything is seemingly usual until the death of an unknown artist, which leads to the uncovering of a dark and gruesome series of events.


Whist the film lacks a substantial plot, it should be mentioned however that the characters in this Netflix original are very interesting, with complex internal relationships that absolutely intrigue the viewer. Gyllenhaal's character, Morf Vanderwalt, presents as a sexually confused art critic, who ranks highly among the fine art community. Though Morf is the main character in the film, we are taken on a thorough journey of each of the secondary characters' stories, which provides us with further insight and intrigue, but also tangles the storyline in places as it becomes overloaded with subplots.


From an aesthetic point, the film is very crisp, and has a beautiful juxtaposition between the light and dark moments. The thrilling elements of the storyline come and go in waves, which creates a neat transition between the bright, polished and perfect art world, and the dark, gruesome and haunting secret that lies beneath it. When the dark scenes come, they definitely don’t lack gore, but do lack length. I found myself craving more of this quick thrill, as it drew me a lot deeper into the plot than the lighter scenes. Velvet Buzzsaw has all of the typical ingredients of a horror film: creepy dolls, jump scares, psychological trauma, bloods and guts etc. but what differentiates it from your usual horror flick is the genuine feeling of fear for the viewer. This is perhaps due to its failure to keep the viewer well and truly invested, or due to the very short length of the horror scenes.


Velvet Buzzsaw unfortunately lacked the drive and interest that was portrayed in the trailer, but thankfully Jake Gyllenhaal's performance did grant me some of the enjoyment that I was seeking. If you're looking for a horror film that's on the lighter end of the spectrum, I would recommend this one. However, if you're in need of a true horror and want to have at least a tiny bit of trouble sleeping at night, I would look a little further.