The gruesome action in this home invasion thriller is insanely good
Some horror movies just come and do their deranged business then quickly leave, expecting you to just go about your day after witnessing extreme carnage. For the Sake of Vicious is one of those movies; a short and to-the-point thriller whose entire second half is devoted to hacking and slashing of the most brutal order. The rest is sadly fluff, but for those looking for an easy fix of crazy violence that’s expertly staged and delivered, you can’t go wrong with this nasty piece of work.
Written and directed by creative duo Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen, For the Sake of Vicious is set entirely in the house of a woman named Romina (Lora Burke), who’s just arrived home after a grueling shift at the hospital she works at. But instead of getting a good night’s rest, Romina is suddenly tossed into a terrifying evening of mayhem and murder when she finds a beaten and bloodied man named Alan (Colin Paradine) in her house. There’s someone else there as well – a grief-stricken man named Chris (Nick Smyth) who’s hellbent on revenge for an assault that happened to his young daughter. Chris believes Alan is the one responsible.
The film’s first half plays out much like a thriller. An early scene of Chris chasing Romina through her home is a brief tease of Carrer and Eveneshen’s proficiency at putting together intense sequences, but there’s still no way of being prepared for what they have up their sleeve when that intensity returns later. A series of revelations concerning the characters’ connections to each other is what keeps things moving until the real show, and it’s that setup where the movie falters. The acting is uneven, or at least it lacks what feels like is needed for such dramatically wild content.
Romina takes things relatively well considering the circumstances, and her having a son she can’t get to never manifests itself in any meaningful way – her kid may as well not exist as far as this story goes. Thankfully, Burke is excellent in the scenes where her character is under immediate stress, and is a large part in why any of the action works as well as it does. Mostly, the film’s first half feels like it lacks the proper energy in its character drama to match the setting and the insanity that’s to come, and not a strong juxtaposing way.
But you’ll be quick to forgiven the less than stellar setup when things get appropriately vicious in the second half. Living up to its name, the film veers from a mystery thriller into a violent home invasion flick when a series of masked assailants descend upon the house intent on killing everyone inside, and the trio is forced to band together if they hope to survive. Things get very real very fast. A ton of pent up aggression and bloodlust is let out once the invaders arrive, and all hell breaks loose.
A brawl in the bathroom in particular is a remarkable showcase of just how well For the Sake of Vicious justifies its existence. Like the best action, especially in the realm of horror, Vicious perfectly captures the true, messy intensity of how an actual fight to the death with whatever you could find would play out. The terrifying reality of it is masterfully choreographed and shot; violence that’s hard to look at but also deliriously thrilling. Like if John Wick was directed by Rob Zombie.
Story-wise, there’s just not enough working here and things end all too easily for everyone (albeit not physically, I suppose). But you’re likely to forget about what doesn’t work because of how much everything else is firing on all cylinders. There hasn’t been horror action this wickedly ferocious in quite some time, where every single blow has a true, horrid weight to it. It’s certainly one way to kick off the new year.
‘For the Sake of Vicious’ is now streaming on Shudder.