[Fantasia 2020] “For the Sake of Vicious” review

Helping out a stranger with the horrid task of prying out a rape confession is a bit of a tall order. When waves of violence come at you uncontrollably, then you’re in for a hell of a night. Directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen’s feature “For the Sake of Vicious” made its world premiere at Fantasia Festival this summer with this type of concept, waiting to lash out onscreen.

Upon her arrival home from her tedious shift as a hospital nurse on Halloween night, Romina (Lora Burke; “Lifechanger” (presented at Fantasia in 2018) and “Poor Agnes”) is shocked to find a man, Chris (Nick Smyth), has invaded her home with a bloody hostage, asking her to keep him alive. Claiming that this unconscious captive is the man who raped his daughter and got away with it in court, Chris plans to torture him into a confession and has inadvertently involved Romina into the process as well. Unfortunately for her, things are about to get much worse. This was NOT the happy-go-lucky Halloween night she was expecting to have.

“For the Sake of Vicious” is a tale of home invasion, followed by a revenge film, wrapped up in a bow of “Shit; who are these guys?!” It also has a familiar premise to 2013’s “Big Bad Wolves”, but without the incredibly dark humor and constant self-questioning: “Did he do it?” It makes up for that, however, with visceral violence and copious amounts of blood, spluttering from bare throats. It also has a few interesting twists and turns entwined together to layer the degree of storyline complexity.

Lora Burke and Nick Smyth do a fantastic job as the leads, providing the audience with emotions and credibility well above average. The shock and confusion in Burke’s eyes match the pain and devastation in Smyth’s. The team of writers/directors comprised of Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen create a bundle of pain and relentless, almost dialogue-less, carnage, sandwiched between a beginning of emotional anguish and an ending of plot twists and motive reveals. The super-human strength of certain characters may sometimes be questioned, but it takes nothing away from the interesting endgame.

The soundtrack is at times appropriate, intense and suspenseful, but at other times, is crudely overbearing. It sometimes adds an unnecessary tone to a scene that could potentially have had a greater effect if there had not been a soundtrack at all. A heavy emphasis seemed to be made almost to not have many silent scenes.

The violence that takes over the middle frame of the feature seems to turn a little dull, for a moment anyway, as it plays out like a compilation of throat-slicing scenes with barely any dialogue and without much interest to the main plot. The film does succeed in allowing us to feel for the characters, though, despite not knowing the whole truth yet.

We shouldn’t stop ourselves from viewing this Raven Banner film for what it is: a complexity-layered film that mixes an abundance of violence with lots of emotional agony. With a score of 6/10, “For the Sake of Vicious” climbs its way to your “keep an eye out for this” list.

Article written by Simon Rother

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