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  For the Sake of Vicious Hammered Home
Year: 2020
Director: Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen
Stars: Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine, James Fler, T.J. Kennedy, Adam Ewings, Nick Spartan, Boris Milinkovich, Dorian Allen, Erin Stuart
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Romina (Lora Burke) is a nurse who has just left a long shift at the hospital this Halloween night, and wants to get back to her home so she can spend the evening with her son, handing out the candy to her local neighbours' kids. However, within seconds of her entering through the front door she notices a man prone on the floor, and another slumped next to him, and begins to panic, especially when the slumped man jumps to his feet and tries to grab her. He chases her around the place, breaking down doors that she tries to lock, until he has her in a headlock and demands she not only calms down, but tend to the wounds of the unconscious man to keep him alive. Why? Because he needs to confess to him...

Home invasion thrillers go back past Straw Dogs to the likes of Lady in a Cage and The Desperate Hours, but after the cult success of The Strangers, they became popular with the lower end of the budget filmmakers, and For the Sake of Vicious was one such example. Directed by Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen, this Canadian effort earned its horror stripes by ramping up the gore, growing ever more bloodthirsty as it went along, so that by the end anyone left standing looked about as bad as those who had not made it through the night. They obviously knew what to do to create a selling point, and bone-crunching violence was that point, though precisely who they were appealing to outside of the horror fraternity was a mystery.

This was because, as a thriller, well, there were assuredly scenes where Romina would be pursued and have to turn to frantic acts of survival to get on with things, but the plot was difficult to follow when the film's answer to everything was to have its characters knock lumps out of one another, sometimes literally. The two men are Chris (Nick Smyth), a furiously troubled father who has, shall we say, an intense grudge against Alan (Colin Paradine) who he has already beaten insensible for the supposed crime of raping his young daughter, something that the injured man vehemently denies. So who is telling the truth? That it really did not matter when it boiled down was indicative of the entire piece, since what it actually wanted to do was not so much see justice served, more see blood spray across the rooms of Romina's house.

Yet this was definitely not a comedy, there were no laughs here to be had whatsoever (unless you employed a sadistic sense of humour, one supposes), so despite it lasting well under an hour and a half (with credits) this was a bit of a grind to get through, with little of the transgressive catharsis Sam Peckinpah was reaching for at the finale of Straw Dogs. For the Sake of Vicious was all finale, every setpiece of gore fitting for the ending of many other thrillers, but here strung together with very little variation in tone it was more likely to have you wondering what you were getting out of watching this rather than indulging your baser instincts in watching the bad men (and good woman) get mashed up by each other's bad behaviour. Using child abuse as a trigger was a hollow trick, obviously an emotive subject but a cheap method of getting the audience on side and excusing all sorts of vileness - it also prevented the film from being particularly enjoyable when it wanted to implement that as its entertainment, for want of a better word. Music by Carrer and Foxgrndr (eighties synths, natch).

[Signature Entertainment presents For the Sake of Vicious on DVD & Digital Platforms 19th April 2021.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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