Double home invasion for a nurse when first she finds a furious interrogation in her kitchen and then hooded and helmeted hoodlums turn up. Exciting, bloody action but sketchy writing.
Films with two distinct halves can be tricky: Will the pace be maintained? Will the story make sense? Will the audience still know who to root for? From Dusk Till Dawn worked, and opinions are divided about American Psycho. Now, here’s For the Sake of Vicious.
Here goes. Chris (Nick Smyth) is convinced Alan (Colin Paradine) is the brute who took his daughter out of their home and raped her. The first half of For the Sake of Vicious is essentially a tense interrogation: Chris does everything he can to get a confession out of Alan; and Alan doesn’t give in, bloodyminded Chris keeps going with the torment anyway. For some reason, this is all happening in Romina’s (Lora Burke) house. I don’t know if it’s because she’s a nurse, because Alan is her landlord, or if those are coincidences. She’s caught in the middle, never sure whether to simply keep Alan alive (as Chris has asked), attempt to keep the peace, or take a side.
And then, there’s the second half of the film. A gang (all wearing either biker helmets or Halloween masks) turns up, breaks into the house, and attacks. The entire second half of For the Sake of Vicious is a battle between the first three and these invaders, with virtually non-stop stabbing, hitting, shooting, and random other kinds of bloody violence with whatever is closest to hand.
There you have it: the two halves are very watchable, exciting in different ways. It’s impossible to tell who to trust during the interrogation, so we naturally sympathize with Romina’s position. It’s very tense, both from the very physical torture and from the arguments each man presents; Chris almost manic with his conviction, and Alan simply firm that nothing was proven because he didn’t do it. When the second half kicks off, the tension is not quite released but redirected as a cathartic free-for-all ensues.
Now, it’s almost as if the writer-directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen weren’t bothered about the earlier mystery: there are people we have gotten to know, versus people we don’t know. It doesn’t get forgotten completely, but the resolution is decisively sketchy. I have no idea who the intruding gang is, I have no idea what the film’s title means, and I have no idea why Romina co-operates as much as she does. I guess what I’m saying is that Carrer and Eveneshen are better at the directing than the writing.
Carrer’s music is terrific. Thumping, modern electronic beats complemented the action, never competing with it (the music nearly had my son pop his head round during a nasty bit). Said action was very creative, making full use of the house’s furniture and fittings, as well as the tools and weapons everyone brought with them. Some of the violence was damned extreme (there’s one image I cannot shift), it was all varied, and the visual and sound effects alike made it pretty real.
For the Sake of Vicious is well made and pacy, for sure. But none of that compensates for the writing flaws. If that doesn’t bother you, the film will be available on Digital HD January 11, 2021, following its UK Premiere at FrightFest, October 2020.