A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
People who do bad things pay; people who don't, don't.
Positive Role Models
A couple of the artists in the film are able to shed the trappings of the "scene" and get back to what made them artists in the first place; a striving young assistant keeps striving. Otherwise, most characters do bad things and get supernaturally murdered as a result.
Violence & Scariness
The magical violence is more implied than shown, but there is some blood. A woman's arm is shorn off, a man is pulled into a mirror by baboons into a mirror, a man is killed by a robot, a tattoo comes to life and tears into a woman's flesh, a man is shown being hung. Lots of peril, too, which will be too intense for some viewers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scene of naked breasts; two instances of rear male nudity. A couple of sexual encounters.
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Many uses of "f--k." Also "s--t," "goddamn," and the middle-finger gesture.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink in bars, at parties, and at home. Smoking (tobacco and other).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Velvet Buzzsaw is both a satire of the art world and a horror movie. Sinister things start to happen after powerful paintings by an unknown artist are discovered after the artist's death. While it's not graphically gory, there's plenty of peril and violence, much of it supernatural in nature: A woman's arm is shorn off, a man is killed by a robot, a tattoo comes to life and tears into a woman's flesh, and more. You can also expect partial nudity (breasts, bottoms) and sexual situations, strong language (including "f--k" and others), and drinking. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, and Zawe Ashton co-star. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a strange hybrid of art house film, thriller, comedy, and horror movie; it's not always successful, but when it is, it really is. Velvet Buzzsaw is at its best when it's satirizing the art scene in all its excess (one of the best movies about this is the hard-to-find indie, (Untitled), which is highly recommended). Writer-director Dan Gilroy (of Nightcrawler and Roman J. Israel, Esq., both excellent films) has convincingly crafted a whole world, a whole vernacular. It's a realm of total absorption and self-absorption for many. One woman moans, "I'm through dating artists. They're already in a relationship." And when a critic is enraged at an artist for sleeping with his partner, he screams, "The admiration I had for your work ... has completely ... evaporated!" The ensemble cast is quite good, with Gyllenhaal playing an affected dandy who has actual principles, Russo effective as an ice-cold dealer, and John Malkovich perfectly cast as a somewhat-lost artist who's trying to find himself again. Natalia Dyer of Stranger Things is charming as a low-level assistant, a role that's something of a running joke.
But the film is less effective as a supernatural thriller. Its gimmick is nothing that horror fans won't have seen before, and the peril to which the characters are subjected isn't particularly scary or inventive. What makes it interesting, really, is the juxtaposition of some of these horror clichés and the rest of Velvet Buzzsaw's satirical art-film quality. It's not a great film, but it's weird and watchable.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.