“In a Valley of Violence” was this year’s surprise screening, and like “Lawless” a couple of years back, I can only assume that it was chosen mainly because of its main director, Ti West, since the /slash filmfestival has shown some of his movies in the past. However, apart from a heavy dose of violence, it didn’t really feel particularly /slash-esque.
If you want to sum up this movie in a single sentence, “John Wick goes West” would probably do the trick just fine. However, where Keanu Reeve’s recent starrer, despite all well-known elements and tropes, somehow still managed to feel fresh and original, “In a Valley of Violence” felt very generic and painted-by-numbers. It was extremely predictable, I felt a certain Tarantino-influence without it ever reaching similar heights, and parts of the movie were a bit of a drag. On the other hand, it offered a couple of nice shots and images, the dog (even though I’m not a dog person) was really cute and cool, and the acting was pretty good all around, with John Travolta a particular standout. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen him as engaged as he seemed here, and at least in my book, he absolutely stole the movie. The action also was nicely shot (albeit not exactly groundbreaking), and there were a couple of nice moments and – in accordance with its title – some brutal scenes. However, even though I’m a fan of the genre, “In a Valley of Violence” never really managed to set my world on fire. It was decent and entertaining enough, but also very run-of-the-mill, and thus nothing that’ll stick in my mind for long, or that I feel the need to revisit anytime soon.