Although For the Sake of Vicious has an unengaging first act, its second act takes a drastic turn for the better with an effective bloodbath.
Nowadays, grindhouse revenge flicks are coming back with a vengeance, but with a focus on more than gratuitous brutality. Modern renditions of movies like Last House on the Left delve deeper into why these acts are committed instead of solely showcasing violence. For the Sake of Vicious is no exception to this modern rule. While the Shudder Exclusive film attempts to add social commentary to its mayhem, its screenplay falls flat. However, For the Sake of Vicious is still an original home invasion/revenge horror film that offers some action-horror set pieces that will give big-budget Hollywood flicks a run for their money.
For the Sake of Vicious starts as a typical revenge flick but slowly evolves into a frenetic bloodbath akin to You’re Next. Written and directed by Reese Eveneshen and Gabriel Carrer, the film follows Chris (Nick Smyth), who holds another man hostage in the home of a young nurse named Romina (Lora Burke). Chris explains to Romina that the man attacked his daughter. Chris believes he’s doing what’s necessary. Things take a shocking turn when several masked men invade the home, a surprise to all three people embroiled in the grim situation.
A man holding another man hostage in a revenge scheme is an overdone setup in horror, making it hard to engage with For the Sake of Vicious‘ first act. The film opens frantically, thrusting the audience into a convoluted story. The story feels derivative of other revenge flicks. However, about halfway through, the film becomes an arthouse bloodbath that features some of the best long-take fight scenes since Atomic Blonde.
The second half of For the Sake of Vicious flips it into something audiences haven’t seen before. The hunter and the hunted have to work together to survive something beyond them, and it’s done very effectively. The issue is that audiences have to sit through forty minutes of mediocre filmmaking to get to the part of the film that matters. The film’s second half features nonstop bloody action and feels like a cross between the work of Nicolas Winding Refn and Wes Craven. Even though the film’s second half is visually stunning and edge-of-your-seat thrilling, the script leaves many questions unanswered. It’s hard to get a sense of who these characters are and what exactly their situation is. By the end of the film, it still isn’t clear.
To the filmmakers’ credit, For the Sake of Vicious showcases some iconic horror set-pieces in its second half. However, its first act feels like a misguided reimagining of Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners. Despite its unengaging first act, horror hounds will be in for a gory treat when they see the no-holds-barred action-horror opus that arrives later in the film. The synth-heavy score by co-director Gabriel Carrer and Foxgrndr is a highlight to the film and shapes the unnerving feeling of the film’s second half. Overall, For the Sake of Vicious feels like two separate movies, but experiencing the second half is ultimately worth sitting through the first.
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