Fantasia Film Festival Screening – For all of the blood and gore in the For the Sake of Vicious (2020), the movie didn’t seem as though it was mind-numbingly pandering to gorehounds, however, gorehounds should indeed be satiated. Instead, it was a nice to look at, visually well-style, and exceptionally acted action-thriller that pumped tragically heartfelt moments into its chaotic plot. The film stars Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, and Colin Paradine who each character gave a gripping performance — Burke as Romina was a force to be reckoned with, Smyth as Chris was a strong but deeply problematic antihero doling out the lot of the violence, and Paradine as Alan gave a surprisingly subdued but powerful go as the unwilling hostage. Co-directed and co-written by Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer, For the Sake of Vicious is rounding out the screenings of the 2020 virtual Fantasia Film festival.
On Halloween night, a nurse named Romina (Lora Burke) heads home after her shift, looking forward to picking up her son from grandma’s later to share candy. When she arrives home, she finds a strange, hulking man lying in wait for her, and after a struggle to get away, he explains that he needs her nursing skills to keep a brutally beaten man alive. To her shock, she knows both men from a tragic child rape case 5 years ago — one, the jilted father named Chris (Nick Smyth), the other named Alan (Colin Paradine), the accused rapist that seemingly got away. Caught in the middle, Romina bides her time while Chris attempts to elicit a confession from Alan, however, their night grows exponentially more intense as masked intruders force the unlikely and fatefully tied characters to ban together against the siege of murderers.
For the Sake of Vicious is a fitting title, as this movie is truly violent. I would even say that one of its torture scenes is on par with the infamous ones out of Misery (1990) or Reservoir Dogs (1992); though not as stylized, foregoing any music and instead sound mixing the heck out of the brutal blows to the body, its choreography and imagery is just as brutal. Despite all of the gore, the story taking place on Halloween night, and the movie’s home invasion theme, For the Sake of Vicious is more along the lines of an action/crime thriller than a horror — there was certainly a mystery in the sense that the reason for the attacks is initially unknown, however, there was little suspense building. Its soundtrack is what induced the most chills, its cold and distant synth-heavy sound giving the film a 1970s or 80s slasher flare, but the film definitely had the numb-to-violence sensibilities of contemporary horror.
The film being unexpectedly set on Halloween night was a nice touch, I had feared that this plot element would be an afterthought but it upped the ante in the narrative, serving as an avenue to further violence, and also, adding to the mystery, as the assailants dawned various demon-inspired Halloween masks. The fight scenes are so graphic I often had to look away! This movie pits knives against guns against brute force, resulting in a knockdown, drag-out melee that doesn’t let up. The initial torture scene acts as an adrenaline shot to the movie, as subsequent scene after scene outdoes itself until the bloody but poignant finale.
For the Sake of Vicious is exactly what it says it is — violence for the sake of violence, however, beyond the imagery of its brutal and graphically violent scenes there is a solid narrative, and its central characters are well-built emotionally before the movie unleashes a floodgate of slashed flesh, gushing blood, and gaping wounds. This surprisingly graphic film hails from Canada, but what separates it from Canuxploitation films, such as those from Barry J. Gillis’ that are similarly bathed in blood and unnecessary violence, For the Sake of Vicious has a much higher production quality and the acting is well above the staccato, porno-sounding dialogue delivery found in those exploitation films.
MOVIE RATING — 6.5 out of 10