When art becomes lethal
By: Olivia Hultgren
As the audience of this satirical, arthouse horror film soon realizes, nothing is more terrifying than an empty art museum. Written and directed by Dan Gilroy of “Nightcrawler” fame, “Velvet Buzzsaw” stars Rene Russo as museum curator Rhodora Haze and Jake Gyllenhaal as stuffy art critic Morf Vandewalt. When money-obsessed secretary Josephina, played by breakout star Zawe Ashton, discovers a dead artist’s hauntingly beautiful art collection, she uses it to become rich.
Although not outwardly horrifying, “Velvet Buzzsaw” offers a criticism of the art world and those who profit from it. Those art connoisseurs with their wire-rimmed glasses and boxy cardigans never seemed to understand what was coming for them. What begins by poking fun at the pompous, self-important lifestyles of the uber-rich ends in a sufficiently creepy bloodfest as art takes revenge on those who use it for their own benefit.
The film is both a hit and a miss. Although it provides an interesting, unsettling social commentary, “Velvet Buzzsaw” suffers from shallow characters and a slow-moving plotline. Gilroy establishes no emotional connection between the audience and the characters, though this detachment does mirror the characters’ ironically aloof attitudes about art. The film delves into the psyche of Morf a little too late, only just beginning to develop his character before he meets his end. Despite these flaws, “Velvet Buzzsaw” does succeed in its vein of social horror, even if it relies on the final 30 minutes to do it.