Netflix original film fails to excite

Photo courtesy of Netflix.com | Netflix original film Velvet Buzzsaw is a supernatural horror film that brings satire and suspense to the art world after the death of an artist.


Netflix originals are always hit or miss – usually a miss. These are the exact words I used to open my Polar review last issue.

However, the purpose of that article was to show how Netflix’s “throw spaghetti at the wall until it sticks” strategy can sometimes produce some really good-sticking spaghetti.

But do not be fooled – Netflix has plenty of spaghetti that doesn’t stick to the wall that instead comes crashing down hard. Velvet Buzzsaw is that kind of spaghetti.

I was very excited for this movie. The director, Dan Gilroy, worked with actor Jake Gyllenhaal on a 2014 movie called Nightcrawler. It is a fantastic movie, so I don’t understand what went wrong for Velvet Buzzsaw.

In the former, Gyllenhaal plays a very unlikeable character who is incredibly interesting. In the latter, he plays a similarly unlikeable character that is not interesting at all. This is true for almost every character in the movie.

Velvet Buzzsaw is about the art world, so all the main characters are artists who have the same overused “obnoxious artist” personality.

Seriously, they all might as well be the same person. They’re self-absorbed and rude to everyone they encounter, and none of them have a single endearing quality.

There are two exceptions to this: a secretary whose single characteristic is that she is a secretary. Then there’s the main character. There is no reason to hate her but they also give you no reason to like her. She reminds me of a video game character who doesn’t talk and just gets guided from plot point to plot point. I don’t understand why anyone was interested in making a movie about this cast of characters.

In fact, it’s hard to understand what the point of this movie is in the first place. It cannot decide what it wants to be. Most of the time it feels like a slow drama, yet towards the end it tries really hard to be a horror movie.

However, the genre it succeeded in the most is comedy. There were genuinely some funny moments. But all these parts feel incomplete: it’s not dramatic enough to be a drama, there’s not enough horror for it to be a horror and the comedy just feels like it’s there to be there. It didn’t seem like anyone knew what they were doing with this movie, especially the director.

Velvet Buzzsaw shows that all movies need to have some sort of guiding force. It could be a studio saying, “Hey Dan, try to stick to one genre, please,” or it could be an already-successful graphic novel in the case of Polar.

Movies are a big commitment for those involved in making it and the audience members who will need to sit through it for two hours, so you should not let the director run free like an artist on a smaller, more personal project like a painting.

For a project as big as a movie, there needs to be someone thinking about the audience.


By: Aidan Callahan | Staff Writer