For The Sake Of Vicious gives us what could very well become a Halloween classic to close out Fantasia Film Festval, with what can only be described as an unrelenting house under siege movie with an extraordinary commitment to extreme violence and, as the title promises, viciousness.
The initial set-up thrusts Chris, a vengeful father, Alan, a property owner with possible ties to some sort of criminal gang and Romina, an overworked nurse with very loose ties to both of them, together as we try to find out who was responsible for a heinous crime committed against Chris’ daughter.
We see some excellent work from these three, with Lora Burke, Nick Smythe and Colin Paradine conveying the moral struggles that surround revenge and justice perfectly. And in these opening moments we already get an idea of how much the film isn’t going to shy away from portraying brutality. In the opening scene we see a brutal clubbing blow to a characters head and around ten minutes later we see a full-blown hammer shot to the same character’s face, knees and groin.
For The Sake Of Vicious had no real intention of dragging out this bottle episode thriller mystery that develops in the first third of the film though, as we’re quickly thrust into a bloody, grim and relentless fight for survival when the aforementioned criminal gang descends on the house and has no interests in keeping any of its inhabitants alive.
This shift from twisty interrogation between three characters with differing agendas into a fully-fledged chaotic battle is signalled with a really great tension building slow-motion segment, that features a close up of a lock being picked, that really helps emphasise the action when it kicks in, and boy does it kick in. Chris, Romina and Alan are then forced to work together to make it through.
This section of the film is certainly reminiscent of other siege movies like The Raid or Assault On Precinct 13, and it’s certainly as brutal as the former. Limbs are broken, hammers are lodged into faces, many people are stabbed and our heroes certainly aren’t immune from the carnage as they too take heavy damage in the melee.
The best sequence is perhaps the bathroom sequence that sees a group of henchman attempting to take out Chris and Romina, who are upstairs. A very tightly shot fight ensues between the two leads and a bicycle helmet wearing ‘mini-boss’ and it really is some excellent stunt choreography and action shooting.
I mentioned at the start that it could be a new Halloween classic and that’s because the whole thing is set during Halloween and has a fun Halloween aesthetic. The villains all sport red devil masks or white skull masks, there are pumpkins everywhere and Romina has two contrasting moments involving the taking and giving of Halloween candy, including a fun suggestion that she breaks the spirt of Halloween and thus, brought all of this slaughter on herself.
But it’s Nick Smythe’s Chris who really steals the show during the carnage. As the revengeful father f he’s clearly out for blood and his uncontrollable anger and bloodlust makes him a formidable opponent for the sinister criminal henchman that really ends up getting the audience completely behind him as a heroic figure.
Another standout for the film is its pulsing, synth-heavy musical score which is not only really, really cool in its own right, but complements the unrelenting bloodshed and violence perfectly, particularly in that tension building moment between things going from pretty bad to completely off the rails bad when the gang show up.
The focus of For The Sake Of Vicious is mostly its violence, we’re given smatterings of exposition to explain the character’s actions and motivations but we’re not really told the full story and things aren’t really ever fully explained.
And that’s why ultimately the ultra-grim sucker-punch ending shouldn’t have come as a surprise, this isn’t a story where good vs evil wins, this isn’t a film that’s interested in having a grieving and vengeful father get the answers he needs, or a potentially innocent, to an extent, family man who just wants to speak to his daughters before he dies, get to do so.
That isn’t suggesting that the ending isn’t satisfying though, because it really is. For The Sake Of Vicious is a film steeped in realism and ultimately we’re left with a very starkly real conclusion to the moral arguments the film throws up. The message seems to be that often vendettas and revenge attempts tend to consume everyone and everything in their path, and they can only ever end badly – ‘these violent delights have violent ends’. It’s just a shame, or rather a good thing, that the journey there was so violently entertaining!
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