By Dave B.
In Velvet Buzzsaw (Netflix), struggling art gallery agent Josephina discovers a treasure trove of original paintings in the apartment of her deceased neighbor. Despite the neighbor’s dying wish that all of his work be destroyed, Josephina enlists her friends and colleagues to sell the pieces. The paintings become the hit of the art world, mesmerizing all who see them, and fetching outrages prices. But these paintings are more than just works of art and anyone who associates with them soon regrets it.
Velvet Buzzsaw straddles two different genres. One the one hand, it’s a satire of the art world. On the other, it’s a horror film. Looking just at the satirical aspects of the 112 minute film, Velvet Buzzsaw is a lot of fun. It’s funny, intelligent, and filled with solid performances. None of the characters are particularly likable, but they’re played with so much commitment that it’s hard not to become enchanted with them on some level. And as someone who knows almost nothing about visual art, I found the skewering of an industry that overanalyzes the seemingly simplest things to be quite humorous. Velvet Buzzsaw is also beautiful. Even beyond interesting art pieces of all types, everything from the décor of houses to the Los Angeles skyline are vivid, bright, crisp, and visually pleasing.
As a horror movie, however, Velvet Buzzsaw is nearly a complete failure. It’s too predictable and there isn’t a frightening moment in the entire film. I’d go so far as to say that including horror elements in this film is nothing more than a cheap, unnecessary gimmick that detracts from the more interesting social dynamics that otherwise take place throughout the movie. In other words, the horror aspects of this film fail completely.
So what does that leave us with? An effective satire mixed with a floundering horror flick. What tips the scales in favor of me recommending this movie is the relatively clever dialogue, the strong performances, and the fact that the satirical parts are more good than the horror parts are bad. So yes, Velvet Buzzsaw is worth a couple hours of your time, but only if you’re looking for some wry laughs and beautiful scenery. If you want some good scares, look elsewhere.
I have no clue what I'm doing, but I'll keep doing whatever it is to the best of my ability.