For The Sake Of Vicious sets its tone from the opening scene, with a masked man wielding a machete in a dingy building full of meat hooks and filthy tarps, an unconscious victim lying at his feet. Presumably at about the same time, an exhausted single mom named Romina (Lora Burke) is finishing up her shift as a nurse at the local hospital.
Romina just wants to get home in time to change clothes, pick up her son from his grandparents’ house, and take him trick-or-treating. Upon her arrival home, she is instead greeted by the maniac from the opener, his battered hostage bleeding out on her kitchen floor. The hostage just happens to be her landlord, Alan (Colin Paradine). The maniac? Chris (Nick Smyth), the father of one of her former patients at the hospital.
For The Sake Of Vicious flirts with the idea of a chamber drama, as Romina tries to figure out why any of this is happening in her home, and the truth amongst what certainly looks like madness. Chris claims Alan is responsible for the assault on his eight-year-old daughter, despite having been acquitted for the crime. Alan fully admits to having an affair with Chris’ wife, but denies harming the girl.
The revenge elements add a bit more depth to what is otherwise a very simple home invasion narrative, though Nick Smyth undercuts some of the bigger thematic questions with his portrayal of Chris. Bug-eyed and ranting from the very first frame, Smyth’s Chris lacks any buildup from heartbroken suburban dad to vigilante. He starts out frenzied, and stays there. Colin Paradine’s Alan, while smarmy, ends up seeming far more sympathetic just by remaining remotely rational.
This self-interested calm is a smart character choice, and helps explain why Romina releases Alan from his bondage to make a phone call. Whatever the truth of the sordid business is, Romina’s got a better chance of getting it the hell out of her house by placating Alan rather than Chris.
That phone call, and its somewhat improbable consequences involving a fright masked biker gang, are where For The Sake Of Vicious shows its bloody heart. Writer/directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen turn the music up (which Carrer composed) and deliver a fast moving free for all with some bang for the budget fight scenes. Aside from the occasional CGI muzzle flash, Mike Emiglio’s practical effects keep the platelets pouring out as our three protagonists fight for their lives using anything they can find in Romina’s once peaceful suburban home.
In the back half of the film, Lora Burke’s Romina finally has a chance to shine. All three leads do their own stunts, and Burke sells the more physical aspects of her role with aplomb. In the rare moments of quiet amongst the chaos, she uses her character’s medical training and a simmering resentment to sell her transformation from mild mannered nurse to avenging angel. To her credit, she maximizes these small opportunities for narrative arc to make the switch far more believably than the rather thin level of exposition would suggest. In a film filled with characters fueled by anger and propulsive violence, she is the only one who reads sympathetically and justifiably vicious.
For The Sake Of Vicious isn’t breaking any new ground in home invasion horror or revenge fantasy thrills. The resolutions to the central mystery and moral questions raised in the first half of the film are not answered in any depth. Instead the screenplay focuses on an ever escalating set of stakes, keeping the main characters perpetually outnumbered and off balance.
Also See: In Defense of Rape-Revenge Films
What For The Sake Of Vicious lacks in deeper substance, it makes up for with a zippily kinetic energy to the fight sequences and a tight 80-minute runtime that makes sure the pounding pulse of the mayhem that fuels the film doesn’t overstay its gory welcome. By keeping its goals simple, and a heavy emphasis on its action-fueled strengths, For The Sake Of Vicious is a more engaging viewing experience than its pared down structure would suggest.
Wicked Rating – 6/10
Director(s): Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen
Writer(s): Gabriel Carrer, Reese Eveneshen
Stars: Lora Burke, Nick Smyth, Colin Paradine
Release date: September 2, 2020 (Fantasia Film Festival)
Studio/Production Company: Federgreen Entertainment, Latefox Pictures, Raven Banner Entertainment
Run Time: 80 minutes