For the Sake of Vicious (2021) Truly Lives Up to Its Title
Title: For the Sake of Vicious
First Non-Festival Release: April 19, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Evaneshen
Writer: Reese Evaneshen, Gabriel Carrer
Runtime: 80 Minutes
Starring: Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Romina (Lora Burke) has just finished her shift at the hospital and is excited to return home for Halloween Night. Her plan to take her son trick-or-treating is interrupted when she walks inside her home to find the unconscious body of her landlord Alan (Colin Paradine) and a bugged out stranger named Chris (Nick Smyth). After a tense introduction, Romina learns of Chris’s intentions and why she is getting pulled into this very dangerous situation, which stems from a horrific crime committed five years ago. Things take an even darker turn when the trio learn that their situation is about to get ever more complicated when masked invaders descend upon the home.
A twisty home invasion revenge thriller, For the Sake of Vicious is a cutthroat exercise in intense yet grounded horror.
There isn’t much story behind For the Sake of Vicious and much of the film operates in ambiguity. I appreciate that some aspects are never explained explicitly but are otherwise hinted at. In a real-life situation, a villain won’t monologue to share how he is going to get away with everything. From a narrative standpoint, it does feel like a copout on fully fleshing out the story. This gets complicated even further towards the end when the explanation just falls into place. In the end, its message of justifiable revenge is muddled and sidestepped for whatever sequence delivers the highest thrills.
The idea of a home invasion horror movie infiltrating the middle of a revenge thriller is an ingenious concept and For the Sake of Vicious almost sticks the landing. The biggest issues holding it back are the ridiculous suspensions of disbelief regarding wounds and the logic of the attackers, along with an excessive number of lingering shots. Regardless, it is a taut and vigorous piece of vicious cinema that will leave you shaking.
Nick Smyth delivers an excellent portrayal of a tortured father coming to grips with his own morality and making sense of the disgusting acts done to his daughter. There’s something so human to his conflicted delivery of a man willing to do anything to get justice even if that means warping himself into something unrecognizable. That energy is then directed into protecting himself and others from the hordes of invaders. While the rest of the cast does a serviceable job, Smyth goes above and beyond, boldly.
One underrated aspect of For the Sake of Vicious is how claustrophobic the movie feels. Some throwaway lines explain that the film takes place in affordable housing, and the location affirms that. It’s a refreshing change of pace from most home invasion films that appeal to more upper-class versions of this particular type of terror.
The movie overall has an incredibly brisk and purposeful feel to it that is only brought down within individual scenes that are awkwardly filmed. Shots sometimes focus for too long on the aftermath of some bloody scene work, which can lead to a deflating feeling. The fight sequences specifically lead to the most problems. It’s almost as if the filmmakers intentionally make it hard to tell how many people are in a room and where they are in relation to the violence to obfuscate the silliness behind the continued survival of the protagonists.
Jumping out of nowhere, For the Sake of Vicious surprised me with its tight direction and subversion on a tired subgenre. While weaker elements of the film’s story and universe drag it down a bit, the result is still an electrifying experience that is both captivating and satisfying. Fans of both home invasion horror and revenge films of all stripes will find something to indulge in here while those that gravitate towards ultraviolence will appreciate the copious blood drenching the screen. In the end it, pulls no punches dealing with its dark material in a rather subversive manner. Its title doesn’t hold back anything and neither does the film itself, which is cool if you ask me.
Overall Score? 7/10