A man named Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) attends a seemingly ordinary art gallery on a regular basis. But eventually, a supernatural force begins to take place in the gallery and haunts individuals who have placed greed before creativity.
Dan Gilroy is a writer and director that I am always intrigued with. Ever since I saw the excellent Nightcrawler (which also stars Gyllenhaal), I have taken notice of his name, as it is clear that he is a filmmaker that has original and intriguing ideas to bring to the table in a world in which the majority of films released are reboots, sequels, or superhero films.
After watching Hereditary in June of 2018, I looked up Toni Collette’s filmography to see what projects she would be starring in down the road. I’ll never forget my initial reaction to finding out that she would be acting in a feature titled Velvet Buzzsaw. Hearing the absolutely insane title instantly hooked me and I was intrigued even without a poster or trailer being released at the time.
This should really come as no surprise at this point, but Gyllenhaal does an excellent job here as Morf Vandewalt. His character is one that is extremely uncomfortable to watch on screen at times. Overall, his presence is eerie and unsettling, and particularly mysterious. Later on, we do get some answers to the puzzles that are set up in the film which is great.
Additionally, Collette gives a terrific performance, although her screen time is sadly short. Whenever she does appear on the screen however, there is nothing I can complain about happily. To be honest, I believe that Collette is one of the greatest actresses of all time, and she should be getting more roles because with each film of hers, she gets even more impressive.
The first two acts of Velvet Buzzsaw are unfortunately extremely slow-paced. For a long while, it is easy to be bored of the picture due to nothing of real interest happening until much later on. Its third act is what we all wanted to see from the beginning and is luckily a lot of fun. It is just so upsetting that the two acts prior were slow with not much going on.
Editing plays a big role in this film as well, but it was executed in a weird and sloppy way. Several scenes go by in which we are looking at a character talking to somebody, and then we instantly transition to a different scene with a completely new feel. The editing was jarring and could have been easily avoided.
Furthermore, this is definitely a film that has a lot more style than it does substance. There really is not much to feast on for the first hour or so in Velvet Buzzsaw which is so disappointing considering the talent involved and the absurdly fun third act.
Velvet Buzzsaw is an unfortunate misfire with a slow first and second act, and a severe lack of thrill and intrigue. Not even excellent actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Toni Collette can save this from being a big missed opportunity.
Overall Grade: C+
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and brief drug use.
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Toni Collette, Zawe Ashton
Directed by: Dan Gilroy
Distributed by: Netflix
Running Time: 113 minutes