Netflix’s new offering adds little to the horror genre, though it may add something to satire, but its criticism is as shallow as it is unoriginal. But, if you like Final Destination-type movies, Velvet Buzzsaw may tickle your fancy.
The art world is full of sellouts and posers, critics and capitalists. Each is a vile sinner to the true artist. And that’s the world where this story takes place. Jake Gyllenhaal plays an art critic, whose reviews make or break an artist’s career. Rene Russo plays an art dealer looking to profit off the work of honest artists. Toni Collette is a sellout. There’s also a young artist’s assistant who takes credit for work that isn’t his, and several young agents. When one of the young agents discovers the “mesmeric” work of a mysterious dead artist, called Vetril Dease (anagram for “see devil art”), terrible things start to happen.
And one by one, the deadly sinners suffer supernatural, art-induced demises.
The question is whether there is a deeper meaning to be found. Pairing the sinners with their demises it’s clear there is a warning for those wishing to profit off of art. The first kill is a young poser, who vanishes into a stupid, derivative painting without making a name for himself. Then a vain and shallow agent hangs by his own poor taste. Et cetera.
In other words, art is good and capitalism is bad. “Death to capitalists.” And there it is, the whole message. And what about the deaths? Well, they’re not scary, and not funny. They don’t really make you think, and they’re not super clever.
There is only one reason to watch this movie: Jake Gyllenhaal. He’s the best part of this movie, and there is a real chance he survives to the credits. He offers a nuanced performance that transcends the subject matter, and he actually has a character arc, and it makes sense. Big thanks to Mr. Gyllenhaal for going all in on this role.
But everything else is dumb.