On all Hallow’s Eve, all hell breaks loose. For the Sake of Vicious starts on a bold high note and just gets more violent and hectic from there. In the film, a nurse comes home to find a tortured maniac and a suspicious hostage bleeding in her kitchen. What starts as a bad night turns inexplicably worse when they must face off against a wave of ruthless intruders laying siege to her home on Halloween night. It’s 81 gripping minutes of pure stress and crazed action.
Co-directors Gabriel Carrer (The Demolisher) and Reese Eveneshen (Defective) — who also served as the film’s production designers, editor, and composer — have pooled their talents to create a film that fights tooth and nail. They start by building tension with a hostage plot; Chris (Nick Smyth) suspects Alan (Colin Paradine) of an atrocious crime that cannot be forgiven. Nurse Romina (Lora Burke) gets caught in the conflict when Chris asks her to patch up Alan, so he can continue his very hands-on questioning session. That alone is an interesting premise to work with, but Carrer and Eveneshen aren’t ready to let the other shoe drop just yet.
They crank it up to an 11 with a vicious onslaught of masked maniacs that basically turn the last 40 minutes of For the Sake of Vicious into one continuous attack. The music — by Carrer with Foxgrndr — pulsates a heavy bassline that thumps like a heartbeat through the film. But they know when to pull back for maximum effect; one particularly savage fight sequence is scored by nothing but the sounds of violence, cranked up to overpowering levels of blunt chaos by a sound editor who must really love his job.
How is it that on a night with trick-or-treaters canvassing the block, no one heard the most raucous fight the neighbourhood has surely ever seen, you might ask? Shhh, it’s Halloween, don’t worry about it. Allow yourself to get swept up in the sheer brutality of the fights, and make a small mental note that all the stunts were performed by the actors themselves.
Smyth proves to be quite capable during these fight sequences. Chris throws himself at the intruders with everything he’s got — he’s in a fight for his life, and you believe it. But it’s Burke who you can’t take your eyes off of. She has a strong presence that draws energy like a magnet.
Romina is a tenacious character to begin with, and Burke blends into her character so smoothly that she just lives it. You immediately empathize with her thanks to a poignant character introduction, and through the film it’s hard to not think of the fact that she’s in way over her head — she’s completely innocent in all this (as is her now thoroughly trashed house).
“It’s not about being the best, it’s about being better than you were yesterday” reads a serene plaque hanging in the kitchen. It’s a (completely unintentional) read into Romina’s character and why she silently agrees to help with the rather unconventional situation she comes home to. She could have called the police, but she instead decides to dig deeper and help, recognizing that without her interference this situation could get much worse.
The plot — which is delivered in the broadest of strokes — feels a tad clumsy. But, much like your concerns about the shocking lack of noise complaints, it’s something you can overlook. The story hits the beats it needs to hit, even if it’s a bit loose along the way.
The first half of For the Sake of Vicious is heavy with emotion, but the punch of tension doesn’t hit quite as hard. That said, the scene in which Chris recalls the traumatic event — and what he suspects Alan of doing — works well (despite the realistically unlikely scenario). But with multiple interruptions to talk things through outside, perhaps the pacing is clipped a bit too many times for the first act to really build up momentum.
It’s the second act that throws it all out the window, forcing the three unlikely allies together in a full out brawl for survival. Something is happening that is entirely out of their control. The fights (by stunt coordinators Adam Ewing and T.J. Kennedy) aren’t stylized or graceful, they’re panicked, head-bashing, gut-stabbing, anything-makes-a-weapon hectic. Our three main characters are beaten bloody but have no choice but to drag themselves onward. It’s gnarly as fuck.
For the Sake of Vicious is a taut, heavy, ferocious action thriller. Right from the start, it draws you in with a crackling fire that erupts into a full-on blaze by the end of the film. With all its weight, it’s hard to describe this film as “fun”, but it drives fast and hard, and it’s an enjoyable — and completely vicious — watch.