Velvet Buzzsaw is a terrible movie that belongs in the dumpster behind the art gallery. It’s full of the most narcissistic and self-serving group of people you’ll ever have the misfortune of meeting. The supernatural element starts off interesting, then nosedives into the abyss with no hope of survival. Unless you’re a rabid fan of Contemporary art, it’s not worth your time.
Josephina (Zawe Ashton) is an assistant to Rhonda Haze (Rene Russo) the owner of Haze Gallery. Haze is a terrible boss to work for who is verbally abusive to her employees as Josephina has experienced firsthand. Her luck soon changes when she finds a dead man in her apartment building.
After a call to the proper authorities, she learns the man has a huge art collection that’s being carted off to the junkyard. Seeing the value of his artwork, Josephina sneaks into the dead man’s apartment and makes off with his entire collection.
She shows the artwork to her new fling, the renowned art critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal), who thinks they are amazing. Josephina’s ever-resourceful boss, Rhonda Haze, soon discovers what she has found and brokers a deal to show the collection at her gallery.
Vanderwalt begins an investigation into the elusive artist and soon discovers the dead man had a very dark past. He had left instructions for his entire collection to be destroyed after his death. Anyone who comes into possession of his art soon ends up dead under mysterious circumstances.
Within just a few minutes of runtime, you’ll hate just about everyone that walks onscreen. It’s like watching a spoiled rich kid being left at home with the hired help. The amount of abuse and humiliation their lowly employees take does nothing to help audiences’ bond with the main cast.
In fact, most will be rooting for the supernatural entity to put an end to these people as soon as possible. While the deaths do come, don’t expect anything suspenseful or dramatic about their demise.
Deaths are quick and the camera has a habit of cutting away that will leave audiences fuming with frustration.
The supernatural paintings are teased as something horrifying and unique but are never utilized to its full potential. A perfect example is a scene where a painting full of monkeys comes to life and pulls their victim inside the painting.
Of course, as will be standard with the rest of the movie, the camera cuts away and we’re left with a disappointing side angle that leaves everything to the imagination.
The mind can run wild thinking about what monstrosity could crawl its way out of a piece of artwork hellbent on murder. Unfortunately, that never happens, and the viewer is left with nothing more than mediocrity.
There is one exception where a much-hated character meets their end being swallowed up by a wall of graffiti. With paint slowly engulfing their entire body, their screams go unheard as death closes in on them. It was a creative scene that really incorporated the supernatural killer art vibe.
There are a couple of minor characters who are very likable and brought some much-needed humanity to this entire mess. Coco (Natalia Dyer) is a young art assistant who keeps jumping from job to job because her employers keep getting killed.
You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor woman as she withstands an onslaught of abuse just trying to survive in the cutthroat art world.
The artist Piers (John Malkovich) has his weird quirks and charm that audiences will gravitate towards. Unlike the art critics and agents that hover around him vying for attention, Piers, like many artists, lives in his own world.
He’s more concerned with his bout of artists block that he can’t seem to shake then the drama brewing at the art gallery.
While it’s always a treat to see John Malkovich in any film, his presence here doesn’t make much sense. His only contribution is introducing a piece of artwork that plays a bigger part in the overall plot than he does. Halfway through, he disappears entirely and isn’t seen again until the very end.
Velvet Buzzsaw has an unlikeable cast that makes for a grueling watch. It’s hard to feel anything for a group of people that most viewers will most likely hate. A couple of minor characters add a few slices of humanity to the movie, but it’s just not enough. Most of the death scenes lack any creativity and are rushed through at the audience’s expense.