Skip to main content

TORONTO AFTER DARK review IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE



Ti West is one of the most influential and highly regarded directors working in genre film. While he made his name working on horror films (HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, THE INNKEEPERS and THE SACRAMENT) those of us following his career knew he would eventually move into other genres or more mainstream fare. He was just too damn good not to cross-over.  After finishing his last film West wanted to "do something different... to make a movie that was a real celebration of cinema." Is there anything more cinematic than a western?

At the same time producer Jason Bloom and actor, Ethan Hawke (Paul) were looking to do an action western together. They saw this as an opportunity to finish out an unofficial trilogy of action films. SINISTER was their "action thriller" film, THE PURGE was their "action horror" film and Ti West pitched them what would become IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE, their "action western." I personally never saw SINISTER as an action film and THE PURGE was more of a thriller in my estimation... however they want to frame it, the results have been pretty damn satisfying thus far, so they can call it whatever they want.

 IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE is a classic western story, in that it follows a mysterious drifter making his way to Mexico accompanied by his dog. The pair attempt to shorten the trip by navigating through a large valley. A small forgotten town rests at the bottom named Denton - but its citizens have taken to calling it the "Valley of Violence." The people of Denton are controlled by small group of thugs who rule with intimidation and savagery.


Hawke plays Paul with a detached sense of cool that is downright hilarious at times and Travolta (The Marshall) gives one of the best performances of his post-PULP FICTION career. While we are on the subject of performance Larry Fessenden (Roy) absolutely crushes it here. He is one of those actors who has been a secret weapon for smart directors for the better part of 20 years now.


IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE is a rare film that effectively combines action, comedy, and tension. Those who saw THE INNKEEPERS know that West can pull off horror/comedy but a western hybrid is an entirely different beast. Come to think of it, one of the only western mash-ups like this to really work for me was Perter Fonda's THE HIRED HAND, and that film is 45 years old. To say films like this don't come along very often is an understatement and I can see why.



I watched IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE with my wife and it really didn't work for her. She loves Westerns but wants them to keep their feet firmly planted in their dusty roots. No deconstruction or commentary, thank you very much. If you are the type of viewer who thinks tropes are meant to be skewered, reinvented and examined in the light this very well could be the film for you.




Popular posts from this blog

Richard Armitage interview on SLEEPWALKER

SLEEPWALKER is the latest film from director Elliott Lester. Troubled by bouts of sleepwalking and disturbing nightmares, graduate student Sarah Foster goes to her university's sleep research center for help. When she wakes up after her first night of being monitored, the world she lives in seems to have changed in subtle, Twilight-Zone-esque ways. In fact, every time she goes to sleep now, she wakes up in a slightly different version of her world. With the help of sleep researcher Dr. Scott White, she tries to work her way back to the reality she started in. But when they finally succeed, it’s revealed that Sarah’s world is not what she thought at all.

Today my guest is one of the stars SLEEPWALKER, Richard Armitage. Tonight we talk about his work on that film as well as his work as Thorin Oakenshiled in The Hobbit Films, as John Proctor in The Crucible, and his upcoming films Ocens 8 and the Julie Delpy directed film My Zoe.

Sleepwalker is Now Available on Digital HD and On Dem…

Internet Trolls and Critics in the Age of Rotten Tomatoes - A Look at the Critical Response to GOTTI

Hate, intolerance, and cruelty are the most valued currencies in the digital age. Online publications deal in the same eye-catching tabloid headlines that were once exclusive to rags like WEEKLY WORLD NEWS and the NATIONAL ENQUIRER. The monetization of clicks is ruining many forms of journalism and film criticism is just one of them. When organizations can see what headlines are generating revenue its only natural that sensationalism would start to rise. There is no consorted hivemind like conspiracy to destroy certain films but rather internet activity that has boosted a certain type of writer. From the outside, online film critics share quite a bit with their Twitter troll counterparts.

The critical response to John Travolta's passion project Gotti has been less than favorable, in fact, it has been downright abysmal. A project over ten years in the making, Travolta has poured his heart and soul into this venture. And many writers seem to take pleasure in the film's failure.

I…

NO ALTERNATIVE review

Depression is often marked by sadness, despair, and hopelessness. The sense that things will not get better is something most of us pass through at different points in our lives. But depression is something more than that. It’s not just a temporary feeling, it’s a debilitating emotional state that you can’t simply pull yourself out of. The angry outbursts, irritability, and frustration that come along with depression can isolate individuals suffering from this condition and push them deeper into their own thoughts. Everyone needs to be heard and sometimes those who can’t express themselves in traditional forms find their voice in art.
Edvard Munch wrestled with agoraphobia and frequently had hallucinations, one of which inspired THE SCREAM, a painting so iconic that even the most casual art enthusiast is familiar with the piece.  Sylvia Plath took a more direct approach with THE BELL JAR and laid out the details of her depression with brutal honesty. Briana Dickerson a white suburba…