News

Velvet Buzzsaw First Reviews: Dan Gilroy's Horror-Satire Kills at Sundance

Early reviews say the Nightcrawler director's reunion with star Jake Gyllenhaal is a uniquely bizarre ride full of campy, gory thrills and big performances.

by | January 28, 2019 | Comments

Director Dan Gilroy re-teams with his Nightcrawler stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo for another twisted movie, this time mixing together horror with satire for a gory takedown of the art world. Velvet Buzzsaw, which arrives soon on Netflix, debuted this weekend at Sundance to mostly favorable reviews, which celebrate the camp performances and the execution of a wild premise involving deadly paintings.

Here’s what the critics are saying about Velvet Buzzsaw:


How would one describe Velvet Buzzsaw?

A high-end Final Destination… best viewed as pure horror camp.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

A slasher movie with something to say.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

A tarted-up throwback to a certain kind of trashy ’70s horror movie — a la Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? or Theater of Blood.
Peter Debruge, Variety

It’s like Bret Easton Ellis meeting John Carpenter in the bathroom at Art Basel.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

A work of art in its own right. You’ve never seen anything quite like Velvet Buzzsaw.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Nothing if not unique, it’s an utterly bizarre film that could only have ever been made for a streamer like Netflix.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Velvet Buzzsaw is certainly unlike anything else you’re going to see this year on Netflix or any other streaming service.
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

This is a film that can’t be described. It simply has to be experienced for all the senses.
Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com


Netflix

(Photo by Netflix)

But is it any good?

Velvet Buzzsaw is a blast from start to finish.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

This movie is so preposterous, so profoundly weird, just hilarious and merciless and black-hearted from beginning to end.
Meredith Borders, Bloody Disgusting

Velvet is fun and silly and enjoyably outrageous.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

The sillier and bloodier it gets, the better.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

There’s some kind of poetry to [what] he’s made here: a trashy thriller set in the world of high art.
Dan Mecca, The Film Stage

Every element combines to make this a polished, glossy film that feels as expensive as the creations within it.
Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com

Even if Velvet Buzzsaw starts to sputter slightly after it’s made its point, it’s plenty exciting to witness the incredibly specific madness they whip up together.
Emily Yoshida, Vulture

It’s all somewhat amusing but rather arch.
Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Gilroy’s film needed to be 60% better or 20% worse in order to transcend the forgettable silliness of its existence.
Dave Ehrlich, IndieWire

For lack of a better descriptor, the whole thing is a mess.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist


Netflix

(Photo by Netflix)

How does it compare to Nightcrawler?

[It’s] a fitting companion piece to Nightcrawler.
Peter Debruge, Variety

It’s missing the weight of Nightcrawler, but that feels right.
Meredith Borders, Bloody Disgusting

Velvet Buzzsaw, as gleaming and sun-drenched as Nightcrawler is dark, is even more of an invective, and even more operatically heightened.
Emily Yoshida, Vulture

Velvet Buzzsaw is worlds removed from Nightcrawler. While Nightcrawler was going for cerebral thrills, Velvet Buzzsaw is trafficking in gore-soaked comedy.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm


How is Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance?

There’s never a moment when he’s not chewing scenery, but it works for the vibe of the film.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

[He’s] relishing another of those cartoonishly camp performances he’s increasingly drawn to in his middle age.
Peter Debruge, Variety

Gyllenhaal, who continues his transformation into full-blown quirky character actor, is a hoot.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

[It’s ] a performance so big that it might not be able to fit on the screen of your iPhone.
Dave Ehrlich, IndieWire


Does anyone else stand out?

Every single performance is hilarious and memorable.
Meredith Borders, Bloody Disgusting

John Malkovich also shows up in an enjoyable cameo.
Anthony Kaufman, Screen International


Netflix

(Photo by Netflix)

What else can we look forward to?

Velvet Buzzsaw is a terrific-looking film, with striking interiors and city vistas.
Meredith Borders, Bloody Disgusting

The costumes are delightful and come to life in Robert Elswit’s art pop light.
Dave Ehrlich, IndieWire

Costume designers Trish Summerville and Isis Mussenden provide some inspired ensembles.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

Isis Mussenden and Trish Summerville’s nouveau-fashion costumes and James D. Bissell’s elaborate production design also help to create a full-scale and highly detailed send-up of the film’s high-brow milieu.
Anthony Kaufman, Screen International

It’s also an ambitious piece of work with unforgettable imagery and an ace ensemble.
Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

Gyllenhaal’s Morf enters some kind of pantheon of quotably absurd characters alongside, say, Christopher Guest in Waiting for Guffman and all the Heathers.
Emily Yoshida, Vulture


Is the satire effective?

I would’ve preferred a much stronger take from Gilroy than what we get here.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Velvet Buzzsaw would have been more effective as pure satire, as Gilroy doesn’t seem to have  an affinity for the [horror] genre.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

It’s all very low common denominator humor centered on art world cliches.
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist

There’s nothing lampooned here that we haven’t already seen before.
Anthony Kaufman, Screen International

If this movie tried to carry itself as a highbrow critique, it would be far more difficult to appreciate Gilroy’s point of view.
Matt Goldberg, Collider

Such fangless satire suggests that Gilroy is either unfamiliar with the art world, or loves it too much to dig any deeper.
Dave Ehrlich, IndieWire

Would a smarter film with more of a message be better? Maybe, but it probably wouldn’t be this off-the-wall, and what a tragedy that would be.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm


Is it still a good horror movie?

[There’s] insane gore and even supernatural horror… once his paintings start, well, literally killing people, it becomes a full-blown riot.
Meredith Borders, Bloody Disgusting

Velvet Buzzsaw is unabashedly supernatural in its horror, with mixed results.
Emily Yoshida, Vulture

It’s a horror show that lacks broader social commentary; a handful of bloody murders and occasional jump-scares, with the occasional astute one-liner.
Anthony Kaufman, Screen International


Velvet Buzzsaw streams on Netflix beginning on February 1.

#1

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)
61%

#1
Adjusted Score: 72675%
Critics Consensus: If you only watch one art-world satire with horror overtones this year -- or most others -- it should probably be Velvet Buzzsaw.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Dan Gilroy

Tag Cloud

book adaptation Turner vampires Star Wars trailers Mary Tyler Moore BBC One 2018 First Reviews hollywood Legendary streaming The Arrangement Broadway batman Nickelodeon Disney+ Disney Plus video Fox Searchlight Interview Mystery Hollywood Foreign Press Association cops gangster Black Mirror sequels Sundance Now golden globes Mary poppins science fiction indie 79th Golden Globes Awards Countdown Television Academy halloween independent Video Games Apple TV+ Amazon Studios child's play anime Premiere Dates Arrowverse scene in color ratings DirecTV Logo The Walking Dead halloween tv blaxploitation critic resources directors zero dark thirty know your critic 1990s Superheroes YA revenge Western New York Comic Con American Society of Cinematographers biopic TIFF Endgame prank cinemax Election news Trivia The Witch docudrama high school Peacock 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards TV movies Lifetime Pixar blockbusters 20th Century Fox Pop BET Awards comic book movies Rocky Netflix Christmas movies 2021 crossover Disney Plus Academy Awards Elton John cancelled TV shows Calendar composers emmy awards sequel mission: impossible Marvel Studios sag awards Photos GLAAD Vudu australia Funimation politics art house Freeform Adult Swim spinoff travel Turner Classic Movies Amazon Prime Video Martial Arts Prime Video Disney streaming service worst movies leaderboard San Diego Comic-Con Crunchyroll crime thriller Warner Bros. FXX jamie lee curtis slashers Netflix award winner Ellie Kemper genre Hear Us Out Rocketman Country Holidays Heroines name the review streaming movies MCU VH1 parents wonder woman The Academy target Super Bowl First Look mcc Esquire scary movies crime drama TCA Infographic space technology Pet Sematary die hard saw LGBT BBC MTV franchise 99% Showtime Baby Yoda robots cartoon Grammys Disney Channel spanish language Lifetime Christmas movies kids OWN critics Marathons comic action-comedy dogs satire remakes witnail Tokyo Olympics Rom-Com Spectrum Originals documentary YouTube Premium Epix hispanic heritage month football video on demand Apple popular TV disaster cars rom-coms IMDb TV legend comedies miniseries worst El Rey versus Captain marvel green book Trailer Women's History Month NBA Reality Competition Ghostbusters PlayStation heist movie live event posters historical drama medical drama Action 2017 anthology harry potter superhero kong trophy Marvel crime Sci-Fi Mary Poppins Returns Winners police drama 2015 Best and Worst 90s Oscars Comic Book laika FX Comedy Central HBO spider-man fast and furious Thanksgiving political drama TruTV Travel Channel DC Comics Cartoon Network Apple TV Plus Awards Tour supernatural Biopics See It Skip It documentaries PaleyFest CMT TLC Universal Pictures 45 2020 Schedule black comedy Black History Month GoT james bond The Purge sopranos TCM The CW ViacomCBS nbcuniversal dreamworks movie zombies Teen Superheroe TV renewals Brie Larson binge reboot YouTube lord of the rings Family Quiz VICE Animation Pride Month SundanceTV spanish Paramount Plus 72 Emmy Awards feel good ESPN IFC Films mutant rotten Spring TV obituary Syfy vs. movies japanese justice league adenture TCA Awards scary 007 japan Masterpiece adventure Exclusive Video Hulu GIFs Tumblr toy story south america Music sitcom mob Avengers dragons Sundance romance breaking bad Song of Ice and Fire Sneak Peek hispanic Hallmark Christmas movies black adaptation Neflix Discovery Channel asian-american Holiday Fall TV Star Trek Lucasfilm 4/20 series Marvel Television indiana jones E3 BET Image Comics marvel comics pirates of the caribbean A&E Pacific Islander stoner boxoffice spy thriller Kids & Family E! 2016 HFPA Sony Pictures Pop TV DGA TCA Winter 2020 monster movies diversity TV One rt labs Television Critics Association latino Wes Anderson king arthur singing competition Bravo comic books IFC new star wars movies Character Guide 93rd Oscars olympics aliens 2019 all-time reviews Horror werewolf Film WarnerMedia suspense PBS Amazon 71st Emmy Awards criterion Disney YouTube Red Alien RT21 NYCC cats richard e. Grant TNT ghosts zombie finale new zealand VOD Stephen King royal family Acorn TV CBS All Access transformers dexter ITV Amazon Prime Nat Geo godzilla screenings festival HBO Max psychological thriller LGBTQ talk show Rock Musical canceled TV shows slasher archives doctor who Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt joker SDCC A24 psycho foreign CNN TCA 2017 Classic Film facebook spain DC streaming service live action films women Musicals discovery Emmys a nightmare on elm street cancelled television Paramount jurassic park Pirates young adult aapi period drama dramedy rotten movies we love christmas movies telelvision french Trophy Talk Fargo BBC America Toys dc game of thrones hist international ABC President Box Office television ID Cannes Tarantino NBC TV Land king kong Crackle RT History universal monsters theme song Fantasy nfl stop motion Red Carpet WGN tv talk Tomatazos Certified Fresh rt labs critics edition Drama USA Food Network elevated horror Dark Horse Comics MSNBC TBS USA Network book cults game show cancelled TV series biography marvel cinematic universe blockbuster Comic-Con@Home 2021 The Walt Disney Company natural history Anna Paquin hidden camera Spike HBO Go teaser based on movie Lionsgate 73rd Emmy Awards docuseries basketball Podcast nature new york renewed TV shows fresh ABC Family Hallmark Columbia Pictures kaiju 24 frames Shudder AMC Plus Paramount Network comiccon Chilling Adventures of Sabrina X-Men rt archives Mindy Kaling comics Britbox Awards Shondaland canceled APB Binge Guide Reality 21st Century Fox social media Year in Review thriller Valentine's Day romantic comedy Comedy Comics on TV Emmy Nominations Sundance TV Film Festival classics Tags: Comedy casting toronto quibi Summer OneApp Fox News venice Starz unscripted FOX concert Extras stand-up comedy free movies animated CBS Polls and Games CW Seed Watching Series screen actors guild sports dceu dark Chernobyl Set visit twilight FX on Hulu children's TV debate what to watch National Geographic Universal serial killer best Walt Disney Pictures festivals deadpool Instagram Live Creative Arts Emmys History DC Universe golden globe awards scorecard mockumentary strong female leads Ovation war ABC Signature BAFTA Christmas spider-verse Nominations true crime Winter TV Mudbound Cosplay italian Opinion cooking Tubi razzies boxing Writers Guild of America AMC SXSW cancelled comic book movie chucky superman