For the Sake of Vicious (Fantasia Film Festival) (Movie Review)

John Shelton's rating: ★ ½ Director: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen | Release Date: 2020

Editor’s Note: Bloody Good Horror returns to the Fantasia International Film Festival to review some of the fest’s 2020 virtual offerings. If you’re a reader living in Canada, you can find more information about how to watch films and programs here. We would like to thank Fantasia for allowing us access to review these films.

Based on the ungrammatical title, you might expect For the Sake of Vicious to be one of those ultra-violent East Asian genre movies that takes various themes, scenes and ideas from Western genre movies and puts them into a blender to come up with something over-the-top, incomprehensible and above all, very, very bloody. You’d be wrong, though - this one’s Canadian. Everything else applies.

Packed into an extraordinarily lean 80 minutes, the film is almost exactly bisected into two parts. The first half follows Romina (Lora Burke), a nurse who comes home to find a wild-eyed man demanding that she keep alive the bloody hostage splayed out in her kitchen. We learn that this guy, Chris (Nick Smyth), has accused the hostage, Alan (Colin Paradine), of having raped his daughter and Romina was the nurse who treated her. Alan, in turn, claims that Chris was actually guilty of assaulting his own daughter. Yes, the first half of this movie is mostly two guys fighting with each other over which one of them raped a little girl. At various times a different character will get the upper hand and bang on the other characters with crowbars and hammers and such until it feels like one of those direct-to-video Tarantino knockoffs that used to clog up the shelves at Blockbuster in the late 90s; almost every conversation has one character pointing a gun at another one and one guy spends most of the movie tied to a chair.

The movie changes gears from a low budget derivative crime thriller to a low budget unofficial Purge remake when an associate of Alan’s unleashes a group of thugs wearing devil and skeleton masks (because Halloween?) as well as a couple of minibosses in matching red and white motorcycle helmets. With some expendable non-player characters in the mix, the movie is finally free to really let the blood spray and the gore fly.

And that’s pretty much it. The second half of the movie is reminiscent of nothing so much as an extraordinarily gory version of one of those cinematic wrestling matches the WWE tries out every now and again where a few wrestlers beat the crap out of each other in some place that isn’t a wrestling ring but has cinematic lighting. The faceless characters get dispatched, a boss character shows up, then the remaining characters fight amongst themselves until most or all of them are dead.

For the Sake of Vicious is an unpleasant movie about unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to each other. It’s grim and nihilistic to the point where it invokes the off-screen murder and assault of children solely as a means to give motivation to characters to say badass things and inflict grievous bodily harm on each other. Perhaps most egregiously, there’s never a scene in the movie that explains or justifies in any way the gory mangling of nouns and adjectives that lends the film its title. It would appear that the title is just nonsense that was intended to sound vaguely badass, which makes it all too appropriate for this movie.

Screened as part of the 2020 Fantasia Film Festival.

John Shelton

Writer/Podcast Host/Professor

Born and raised in the back of a video store, Shelton went beyond the hills and crossed the seven seas as BGH's foreign correspondent before settling into a tenure hosting Sophisticult Cinema. He enjoys the finer things in life, including but not limited to breakfast tacos, vintage paperbacks and retired racing greyhounds.

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