Nothing brings people together quite like the imminent threat of a common enemy, a concept explored in For the Sake of Vicious. And this take on it is truly brutal.
A nurse, Romina (Lora Burke) comes home to find her house broken into by Chris (Nick Smyth) who has a hostage, Alan (Colin Paradine). After Chris appeals to her sense of morals, she lets him use her home as his dungeon, cancelling plans with her young son for Halloween. Uncovering the twisted knots of the relationship between the two men and herself, Romina is left confused in her loyalties, until the group hears a knock on the door. Confronted by a common enemy, the three are forced to work together in what is a bloody mess of teeth rattling carnage.
Writing and directing duo, Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen have taken on ambitious features before, and For the Sake of Vicious is refreshing for doing one thing and doing it really well. that one thing being the action scenes. This movie is a glass of kicks and hits that overflows when the punches land. They’re shot incredibly well in a way that will make you forget you’re watching what otherwise looks like a lower budget indie film. They’ve used their resources well to showcase some of the better smacks on screen that left my teeth feeling loose like after Brawl in Cell Block 99.
Taking place on Halloween night, this is the newest shot at the “unexpected carnage with the backdrop of pumpkins” flick, standing beside The Guest and Halloween. It’s a sometimes unnecessary but really fun addition that allows for orange string lights to create the backdrop and aesthetic of the film. I liked it, and it makes each time someone grabs a kitchen knife all the more fun. The lighting is worth taking note of, how it shifts inside and outside, from the aforementioned Halloween decorations to the lighting inside the house to mess with the colors of the blood shooting in each direction.
The acting is fine, and the dialogue delivery is a miniscule part of the necessary resume for the roles since they all do a great job with the action. Burke’s Romina is such a badass, and I loved this take on the hardworking single mom who transitions into ass kicking protection mode. She’s a blast.
The largest misstep is the foundation of the relationships of the three main characters. While having them unsure of their loyalty off the bat made for a more impactful “enemy of the enemy is my friend” turnaround, the story was both unbelievable and unnecessary. Chris and Alan are involved because Chris believes Alan to have kidnapped and sexually assaulted his young daughter, a nasty storyline that used a little girl’s assault as a story point when almost anything else could have also worked. Later, Alan accuses Chris of the act and reveals more of their intersecting relationships in ways that would make the characters unforgiveable. It almost reads as Hitchcockian in the twists with increasing stakes, but more so used a fictional child as a prop for the evilest of deeds as the men’s’ motivation. The movie takes off in the second act, which comes as such an exciting surprise, that it’s easy to blow off these transgressions, so I wish it’d kept it simpler and taken us to where we wanted to be much sooner.
So while it takes a few minutes to really take off, For the Sake of Vicious is ultimately a really successful action thriller that gives us some blood spray and gut hits that rattle a neighbourhood house.