Velvet Buzzsaw ★★★½

It’s good to remember sometimes, as we bow our heads in thanks for the emergent wave of prestige horror that’s washed up on our shores, that the genre can be unadulterated fun as well. 

It would be easy to hate Velvet Buzzsaw if Dan Gilroy ever made the mistake of looking back to see the killer just one step behind him. The world of exhibit art is fish in a barrel when it comes to parody. Any one of the multitude of a-listers associated with the project could have easily sank this film in a fit of pique by descending into self-seriousness, and every single one is more than capable of that. Thankfully, everyone involved decided to have a good time. 

Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo) make a lovely pair as twin goofballs, the critic piñata and the art gallery Cruella DeVille. Both actors fearlessly ham it up, assisted nicely by Toni Collette and John Malkovich, and it’s a relief that he doesn’t look like he begrudges his presence in the manner of Bird Box. The menacing art is what one imagines would happen if Bill Stoneham made sweet love to Henry Darger’s eye sockets, and it gloriously terrorizes in the campiest manners possible. 

The film is probably better appreciated as a comedy. The majority of the action is tacky treachery punctuated by Phantasm-esque kills and Hoboman sculptures chasing people. The running gag of poor Coco the tragic assistant continually finding bodies gets funnier and funnier throughout the film. The whole enterprise reminds me of something a suburban version of John Waters may have conceived. 

What can I say. I enjoyed myself.

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