Having made its premier at Fantasia 2020, home invasion thriller For the Sake of Vicious is perfect viewing for the midnight movie crowd. Told over a taut 80 minutes, it is a lean, mean action thriller that while low on budget is filled with enough bloody carnage to entertain any gore hound.
Set over an eventful Halloween night, the movie opens with nurse Romina (Lora Burke) finishing her shift and going home. Unfortunately for her the somewhat deranged Chris (Nick Smyth) has chosen her house to detain and question Alan (Colin Paradine), who he suspects raped his daughter. Romina is linked to the case, being the nurse who cared for Chris’ daughter when she was taken to the hospital.
As Chris’ interrogation deepens it becomes unclear who is truly telling the truth. However, before they can get to the truth Romina and Chris are going to have to work together to deal with the barrage of criminals descending on the house. While it appears they are there to rescue Alan, they may have their own ulterior motives for showing up on this old hallows eve.
Directors Gabriel Carrer & Reese Eveneshen use the first half of the movie to ratchet up the tension, first introducing us to the lead characters and their situation, before unleashing a barrage of violent action upon the audience in its second half.
Unlike a lot of indie filmmakers, they are smart not to overextend their reach. I have lost count of the number of low budget actioners that have included lengthy car chases and shootouts although they clearly don’t have the finances to do so.
Carrer & Eveneshen make sure to use their small budget to their advantage, setting the majority of the film in the confines of Romina’s house. The action is downright brutal, filled with beatings, stabbings and gouges. The gore effects are all well done and thankfully carried out practically.
Most of the action takes place in the latter half of the movie when Alan’s supposed rescuers show up. It is up to Romina, Chris & Alan to a lesser extent, to bunch together and fight off their attackers. Each of them takes as much punishment as they give out.
The tight corridors and small rooms add a claustrophobic element to the action, with characters struggling to get a hit in without bumping into each other.
The action is both brutal visceral. None of the characters are martial artists so there is a sloppiness to the fight scenes, which is fitting with the plot and characters.
In addition to directing, Carrer & Eveneshen carried out writing duties. Like most home Invasion thrillers, the plot is mostly straight forward, but the characters raise it above the norm with there being an uncertainty to who is telling the truth. Similar to the classic John Carpenter film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), those who would otherwise be the villain turn out to be the characters you root for.
The only drawback was that they don’t really take advantage of the Halloween night setting. It could be set any night of the year and it would make no real change to the plot. Sure, the villains wear masks, but I’m sure they would do this anyway due to the crimes they are committing.
The cast is filled with relative unknowns. Lora Burke, Nick Smyth & Colin Paradine all do great work in the three lead roles.
Smyth gives a suitably intense performance. It’s unclear at first if his claims about Paradine’s character are even true, or if he’s just crazy. To be honest, I don’t think I seen him blink once the entire film.
Burke’s Romina is the most relatable of the lead characters, playing a relatively normal person caught in a terrible situation. Gearing up for what she thinks is going to be a straightforward Halloween night, she has to quickly adapt to the situation.
As we are introduced to Paradine’s Alan, it is clear he is no normal businessman, with him being surrounded by a number of shady types. Still, his character isn’t an out and out villain, with it being unclear if he even done what he is accused of. Of the three leads Paradine goes through the most punishment, with one particular torture sequence being especially memorable. It would make any man watching squirm.
It’s a shame that this year’s Fantasia festival was online only, as a film like For the Sake of Vicious would be a real crowd pleaser, with its entertaining performances and gore laden carnage being tailor made for a festival audience.
For the Sake of Vicious comes strongly recommended, being one of the more surprising films of the year. While its limited budget is sometimes apparent, this in no way detracts from the overall enjoyment.
It is also a major improvement on Carrer & Eveneshen’s previous movie, the disappointing The Demolisher (2015), and shows what can be achieved with limited resources. It will be interesting to see where the two go from here, hopefully working with an increased budget and on a larger canvas.
Plot: 3.5/5 Acting: 4/5 Action: 3.5/5 Overall: 3.8/5