Despite its grammatically uncomfortable and meaningless name, For the Sake of Vicious starts up with a lot of potential. A young nurse, Romina (Lora Burke), comes home after a late shift on Halloween night to find an apparent corpse on her kitchen floor, and a man dozing nearby. The man awakes and stops her from calling the police, and soon she learns who he is: he is Chris (Nick Smyth), the father of one of her patients, a child victim of rape. The “corpse” is Alan (Colin Paradine), the man that Chris believes is guilty of the crime. Chris urges Romina to keep Alan alive.
Guns and hammers and other implements come out, but it’s not Saw. The drama here isn’t tension over impending torture, it’s about Chris trying to convince Romina, and Alan trying to defend himself. Chris tells the harrowing story of how his daughter was abducted, and Alan maintains his innocence, despite being kind of a badguy in general.
I guess cozy isn’t the right word, but an intimate one-room drama done right is pretty rare. It’s all about the acting, and the occasional flashbacks here are just window dressing. Burk and Smyth chew the scenery, while Paradine tries to remain aloof, and it’s largely believable and the characters are real enough that the viewers care about the tense unfolding of the conflict. It’s a trial drama almost, on the cheap linoleum floor of an apartment kitchen.
But then, o my friends and ah my foes, then, things change. Alan manages to get hold of a phone and call someone for help. And the “someone” turns out to be a gang of masked home intruders that break in and attack everybody, Alan included. And now for the last 2/3 of the movie it’s just fighting and gore. The intimacy of the story is gone, baby, and that was what I liked about it.
See, here’s the thing: I love genre-bending. I love surprise shifts in tone and world. But only when they add something. This started as an intimate small-world single-set three-person drama/thriller, and then it just turned into a gory home-invasion gang brawl. The questions raised in the first part are largely unanswered, but also irrelevant by the end of the movie. All you need to know is bad-guys attack, good-guys defend, then attack. Gray guy is tied to a chair.
Fans of the movie that the last 2/3 turned into would have given up before getting through the first 1/3, and fans of the first 1/3 are going to feel really let down by the last 2/3. It’s a damned shame. It’s not terrible, it’s just a let-down. If it were two movies, they’d both get a higher grade. This movie is less than the sum of its parts.
4 out of 10