Velvet Buzzsaw

Movie review by
Michael Ordona, Common Sense Media
Velvet Buzzsaw Movie Poster Image
Supernatural violence, sex in art satire/horror hybrid.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

People who do bad things pay; people who don't, don't.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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.


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.


Brief scene of naked breasts; two instances of rear male nudity. A couple of sexual encounters.


Many uses of "f--k." Also "s--t," "goddamn," and the middle-finger gesture.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink in bars, at parties, and at home. Smoking (tobacco and other).

What 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 GyllenhaalRene Russo, and Zawe Ashton co-star.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byahmed aiman 99 February 1, 2019

Velvet Buzzsaw is the first 2019 movie I watch, and it's likely to be on my top 10 disappointing movies of 2019 at the end of the year!

Velvet Buzzsaw is thought-provoking, but not in a good way. My mind couldn't stop thinking throughout its 113 minute runtime; only to make sure if I'm... Continue reading
Adult Written byJWReviews June 19, 2020


This movie is completely fine if your child knows not to repeat the swear words or flick anyone off then this is fine sure it has some gore but about the Same a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byada- May 29, 2019

Tried To Capture Van Gogh - Failed

This movie was hard to follow, so that's why I'm saying 12+. It wasn't that good. Interesting concept, shoddy execution.
Kid, 11 years old March 13, 2019

What's the story?

In VELVET BUZZSAW's high-rolling, highfalutin' L.A. world of contemporary art, critic Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal), art dealer Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), her assistant Josephina (Zawe Ashton), and others respond to the posthumous discovery of a major new artist. Some try to cash in, some are inspired, some are jealous. But those closest to the newly unearthed works come to realize that there's something more to these paintings ... something sinister.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Velvet Buzzsaw. Is it typical horror movie violence? Why or why not?

  • How does the movie depict the art world? What do you think the filmmakers are trying to say about these people, if anything?

  • The film relies on certain familiar moral structures (people do bad things, a supernatural force punishes them). Did that make the film predictable? Did that matter?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love quirky movies

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate