Fantasia 2020 – For the Sake of Vicious (2020)

Directed by: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen. Starring: Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine. Runtime: 1h 20 min. Released: This film had its World Premiere at Fantasia Film Festival on September 2, 2020.

We’re thrown right into the action of For the Sake of Vicious in the opening scene as a disgruntled man, Chris (Nick Smyth) knocks out a hostage, Alan (Colin Paradine) and brings him to a house owned by an innocent nurse named Romina (Lora Burke). That’s the very simple set-up, as Chris has kidnapped Alan as he thinks he has committed an unspeakable crime. It’s a Kentucky justice story that stays paper-thin throughout.

It all gets convoluted as a series of intruders invade Romina’s home trying to either recover or punish Alan. You see, Alan makes a call for someone to save him, and it’s ambiguous if the person on the other end of the call is trying to help Alan, and the answer by the end of the film is frustratingly weak. The story in general is weak, as the intruders come in and it plays out like a much weaker version of The Raid: Redemption. It’s weaker because of the hectic editing in close quarters and plain fight choreography.

This is all set on Halloween night, by the way, so the intruders are all decked out with Halloween masks or biker helmets. The first round of intruders are completely underwhelming; but at least the bikers put up more of a fight. This is also when the filmmakers use most of their blood budget, and they show some cool practical gore and effects for these fights. However, this one scene when the bikers initially come in is the only time I ever enjoyed For the Sake of Vicious.

For the Sake of Vicious 4
For the Sake of Vicious. (Photo courtesy of Fantasia Film Festival.)

Otherwise, there’s nothing here that’s actually engaging. The characters are never elevated past the dynamic of hostage, maniac and mediator; and their shared motivation is survival. The writing tries to set up some mystery around the characters but it all feels so dull that I didn’t care about any of them. The performances are not much to write about, either – as Nick Smyth as Chris is a purely reactionary performance to the lengths he’s willing to go, and Lora Burke looks distraught throughout.

There’s also very little for this film to be set on Halloween night, either. It’s an action film more-so than horror, and if it is at all horror, it’s a B-grade action film masquerading as a B-grade horror film. I thought this would be a strong home invasion film, but it feels so hectic throughout it stressed me out. I really like one-setting films, too, but the action feels so basic and that’s the big problem with For the Sake of Vicious is that it’s so mediocre. You know what you’re getting throughout – some gore – and that cashes that cheque but I wanted more.

Even when the film starts to become a bit fun in the third act, my enjoyment waned as soon as the characters get downstairs and the score (by co-director and co-writer Gabriel Carrer, as well as Foxgrndr) is so overbearing it totally drowns out the dialogue. Louder music does not equal more fun. This film goes nowhere the entire runtime and goes out on a not so vicious whimper.

Score: 38/100

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