For The Sake Of Vicious


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

For The Sake Of Vicious
"For The Sake Of Vicious demonstrates that you don't need exotic settings to make a pulsing action film." | Photo: Courtesy of Fantasia

We can tell it's been a long day when Romina (Lora Burke) gets home from the hospital where she works. All she wants to do is settle down with her son, who is being looked after elsewhere, and have a peaceful evening, but she's barely through the door before she realises that there's something very, very wrong. There's a man lying on the floor bleeding and crying out in pain. Then the perpetrator appears, seizing her to stifle her panic, and he's somebody she knows.

It's going to be a long night.

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The set-up for Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen's latest film is fairly simple. Chris (Nick Smyth) has injured Alan (Colin Paradine), and wants Romina to keep him alive until he can finish extracting information. Whilst this goes strongly against Romina's instincts as a health and care professional (and human being), she can't bring herself to condemn Chris because she knows why he's doing it - information that viewers will be made privy to over time. She's not convinced, however, that he's got the right man. An uneasy stand-off develops. The first half of the film is spent mainly on conversation, as the three try to resolve their various uncertainties and Alan pleads for his life. The second half is something else entirely.

Interrogation, torture and the various emotive justifications people make for it are all commonplace features of film (and even television) today, and there isn't much here that's new. Whilst Burke is impressive, the other actors don't manage to do enough with their characters to really make us feel for them, so the question of who's right or wrong remains a puzzle to solve rather than a properly involving mystery. Although Carrer and Eveneshen keep things believable and don't technically do anything wrong, this is clearly not their strong suit. But there's more going on. Suffice to say that Chris is not the only person who has a bone to pick with Alan. When a gang of masked bikers descends on the house, the stage is set for a second half of non-stop violent action.

Filmed in a condemned house which the filmmakers were at liberty to destroy, For The Sake Of Vicious demonstrates that you don't need exotic settings to make a pulsing action film. Burke communicates not only the terror of an ordinary individual experiencing violent assault for the first time, but also the grief that comes from watching her home torn apart as she makes desperate phone calls to delay her son's return, clearly wondering how she's going to persuade him that nothing is wrong. Before long it's clear that that will be impossible, as heads are rammed through walls, fixtures and fittings are pulled apart and blood is splattering everywhere. And that's before it comes to the dead bodies and her own wounds.

Carrer and Eveneshen have said that they wanted their film to convey the sort of fighting one sees in real life, with people who don't know how to fight. There are no fancy moves and there are plenty of blunders, but there is a good deal of ingenuity as the initial three antagonists, forced to work together to survive, seize every opportunity to defend themselves and see off their foes. It's an incredibly physical film and the exhaustion on the actors' faces is real. The filmmakers have been ingenious, too, in working out just how much they can brutalise a character whilst keeping them in play.

You will need a strong stomach for this film, but if you simply don't think that a fight like this sounds very interesting, you'll be surprised. The Fantasia 2020 team knew what they were doing when they chose it. This is where Carrer and Eveneshen are in their element, and there are very few moments when the tension slackens. Though the film may take a while to get you in its grasp, once it does, it never lets go. You'll feel exhausted yourself by the end.

There are few action thrillers out there with this kind of unrelenting power. If that's your thing, you'll find For The Sake Of Vicious a treat.

Reviewed on: 05 Sep 2020
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For The Sake Of Vicious packshot
An innocent nurse, a tortured maniac and a suspicious hostage face off against a wave of violent intruders as they descend upon their place of refuge on Halloween night.
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Director: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen

Writer: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen

Starring: Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine, TJ Kennedy, James Fler, Erin Stuart

Year: 2020

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: Canada

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