When pushed far enough, there’s no telling what acts of brutality an ordinary person is capable of. Shudder’s latest exclusive film For the Sake of Vicious takes an ordinary Halloween night, and turns it into an evening of disturbing allegations, and gruesome violence perpetrated by people who never imagined they’d be doing so.
Getting to the Truth
Following a long and exhausting shift, nurse Romina (Lora Burke) comes home to find her landlord Alan (Colin Paradine) tied up and held captive by Chris (Nick Smyth), a seemingly deranged man who claims that Alan has committed an unspeakable act upon his daughter.
Biting the metaphorical bullet, and sacrificing taking her own son trick or treating, Romina stays to give Alan medical attention, while also trying to get to the bottom of this grotesque accusation. The entire first half plays out like a fascinating stage play between these three actors in this one location.
We hear different sides of the story (complete with unreliable emotional testimony) and find ourselves questioning the morality of all this. Much like Romina, we’re not sure if Alan is guilty or not, and conflicted on what he deserves if he is truly guilty.
Chris lays out his accusation and via flashback, we see it occur. Although thankfully the movie refrains from ever getting graphic, at least when it comes to this scene (it gets very, very graphic later on). On a personal note, this sequence was particularly disturbing, likely given my own status as a parent. Even just hearing about something like this will surely send a chill down the collective spine of any parent watching this movie.
However, things take a very interesting and somewhat unexpected twist, as this dramatic and emotional tension-build shifts into full Straw Dogs territory in just a matter of minutes. Earlier on, we saw that landlord Alan is involved with some less than savory business partners.
Said partners wind up descending upon the house, and what follows is a brutal and gory exercise in horror movie action and violence, that demonstrates why this movie is called For the Sake of Vicious.
Violating the Nightingale Pledge
While the acting can meander between believable and amateur theater, one strong and solid standout is Lora Burke as Romina. Right from the beginning, her performance is nuanced and layered with internal conflict.
She’s horrified by the accusations against her landlord, someone she’s known for a long time, but she’s also horrified at how easy it is to embrace things like violence and brutality. As a healthcare worker, her primary instincts and training are to help people, but she finds herself committing some pretty gruesome acts of violence upon other people.
Depths of Depravity
The whole movie works as a bleak exploration into just how horrifically human beings can treat each other. The action scenes are just stylized enough that they’re interesting to watch without ever feeling like it’s celebrating said brutality.
In a lot of ways, it’s thematically similar to 2020’s Random Acts of Violence (which also debuted on Shudder). And while it doesn’t quite live up to everything that movie achieved, it’s still an entertaining and thought-provoking exploration into the darker side of humanity. Fans of blood and gore won’t be disappointed, and neither will viewers looking for a movie that has something to say!
What did you think of For the Sake of Vicious? How did it compare to Random Acts of Violence? Let us know in the comments!