In a Valley of Violence (2016)
Rent In a Valley of Violence on Amazon Video
Written by: Ti West
Directed by: Ti West
Starring: Ethan Hawke , John Travolta , Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Set during the days of the wild west, a random act of violence propels a drifter (Ethan Hawke) to exact revenge on a small town.
An ode to spaghetti westerns but fully aware of the genre, In a Valley of Violence is an over the top and in your face revenge tale. That tone sets it apart while crafting a fun experience. It's gritty, dark, comedic, and always just a bit over the top.
This is a Blum House production. Blum has perfected the profitable low budget movie. He's got a system in place to limit cost and it's effective. This is a low budget movie, but it never overshadows the production. The sparse town is written into the script.
From the start this feels like a spaghetti western. Ethan Hawke is the stoic drifter Paul, passing through town and dropping one liners like a Clint Eastwood character. The resident jerk of the town, Gilly Martin (James Ransone) points his gun at the stranger and Paul tells him to "be careful who you point a gun at." Gilly doesn't want to appear weak, so the tension mounts as you wonder who's going to snap first. The situation is defused, but Gilly isn't done.
Gilly runs his mouth and challenges Paul to a fight. Anyone that barks that much usually lacks bite. Ransone does a great job of portraying a vulnerable loud mouth. Gilly is trying to look tough, but you know he isn't. This fight launches the plot of revenge and retaliation.
Mary Anne (Taissa Farmiga) provides comedic relief, the fast
talking hotel manager that's glad someone finally stood up to Paul.
After the fight, Paul is asked to leave by Marshal Martin (John Travolta) who happens to be Gilly's father. Paul leaves, but Gilly retaliates.
Once you see the animated title and hear the music, there's no mistaking
this for anything but a modern spaghetti western. The movie swings hard between gritty western and over the top comedic relief. There's a fair amount of overacting at times, but this entire movie is in your face, even the soundtrack refuses to play quietly in the background. All of it fits the tone of this movie.
You could call this John Wick (2014) meets a spaghetti western, but only as much as you can call any revenge movie John Wick. This movie forges it's own style.