Saturday 17 April 2021

For the Sake of Vicious (Canada 2020: Dir Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen)

When nurse Romina (an excellent visceral performance from Lora Burke) returns home, with nothing on her mind but preparing to celebrate Halloween with her young son, she doesn't bank on finding a just breathing body in the living room. Said body is, she works out, her landlord Alan (Colin Paradine); also in the house is the guy who laid him out, Chris (Nick Smyth). He wants Alan kept alive so he can extract a confession from him about raping Chris's daughter; and Romina's connection to this is that she was the nurse on duty when his daughter was brought into hospital.

From its early scenes, with Alan tied up in a chair, Chris trying to force the truth (or his version of the truth) out of him and Romina stuck in the middle, things slowly escalate when Alan manages to phone for help. He's clearly a shady landlord, whatever else he may or may not have done, for the assistance summoned is very much of the hired thug variety (all wearing fright masks, because it's Halloween) and also includes a biker gang called, appropriately enough, 'The Skull Splitters.'

But, and somewhat confusingly, the assembled assistants he summons have their own beef with Alan, and pretty soon the whole house is turned into a makshift battleground, with kitchen and bathroom equipment (including shower curtain and cistern lid) being utilised for weapons, in a free for all fight to the death.

From its faux Grindhouse title onwards, For the Sake of Vicious seems little more than a well directed exercise in choreographed and increasingly over the top violence, soundtracked by a very Carpenter/Howarth-esque synth score by Carrer under the 'Foxgrndr' monicker. Narratively there's little else going on other than the description above (apart from a couple of flashback scenes), which really only serves to get a bunch of people into one (domestic) location for an extended pitched battle. There's more than a streak of dark humour to this, of course; the deployment of any and every household item, from kitchenware to flat screen TV to the aforementioned WC components (there are guns available but they're not always the weapon of choice) acquires a kind of slapstick intensity, and there's a bizarre moment of kitchen carnage camaraderie when Romina, using a half bottle of vodka to disinfect one of her wounds, takes a swig and then offers it to Alan.

For the Sake of Vicious is definitely a movie to see with a crowd; it's the kind of Festival pleaser that doesn't ask that much of its audience but ramps up the pace satisfyingly and delivers enough gruesome set pieces - and an up for it final girl (or woman in this case) - to tick all the right boxes.

For the Sake of Vicious will be released on DVD and digital platforms from 19 April.

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