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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Review: VFW

Director: Joe Begos
Screenplay: Max Brallier and Matthew McArdle
Year: 2020

An ultraviolent movie starring a group of cinema legends and directed by Joe Begos is information enough to excite any independent horror movie fan. Begos put his name on the radar of all those who didn’t know him with “Bliss” and now he solidifies his disruption in horror cinema with “VFW”, a movie in the style of ‘70s grindhouse.

While a drug addiction epidemic ravages a small North American town, a young woman steals a good amount of drugs from a dealer as retaliation for having killed her sister. The dealer and his henchmen follow the young woman, who finds refuge in the bar of a group of war veterans. The veterans must now defend their post from the group of people that tries to get in to kill all who are inside and retrieve the drugs.

The start of “VFW” is based on exposing the drug abuse issue in the small North American town and the events that lead young Lizard (Sierra McCormick; “The Vast of Night”) to steal the load of drugs. At the same time, we start to know the group of war veterans and instantly their characters and the talent of the cast sinks the viewer right into their dynamics. Begos doesn’t just have any cast for this, but rather the veterans are interpreted by the legends Stephen Lang (“Don’t Breathe”), William Sadler (“The Shawshank Redemption”), Fred Williamson (“From Dusk Till Dawn”), Martin Kove (“The Karate Kid”), David Patrick Kelly (“The Crow”), and George Wendt (“Fletch”); an enviable cast that shows that talent doesn’t go away with age.

Once Lizard reaches the veteran’s bar followed by the group that looks to retrieve their drugs, the graphic violence doesn’t keep us waiting. Begos and his team showcase all their creativity on the deaths using all that is inside the bar as a possible weapon, such as deer antlers and even a flag, making use of spectacular practical effects. The excessive violence is presented in a dirty and granular style that resembles that of the ‘70s, where grindhouse movies had their peak, and is lighted with Begos’ particular style of neon blue and red lights, that in this case can be considered as a patriotic representation, that suffers from the usual problem of this director and his style with scenes too dark or with little contrast that makes it difficult to make out what is going on.

The script by Max Brallier (“The Last Kids on Earth”) and Matthew McArdle presets a simple and straight forward story, which only purpose is to take as many people as possible to the veterans’ bar where the dismemberment and blood splattering takes place. This is not to say that it’s a bad script but the whole contrary, the attractiveness of this movie comes from the gore and the interpretations of the protagonists, which Brallier and McArdle recognize and takes us directly to witness it without much detour y without unnecessarily overcomplicating things while keeping a great rhythm. With this, they manage the viewer to quickly sympathize with the veterans and be interested in the outcome of the bloody encounter between both groups.

“VFW” is a fun take on ‘70s grindhouse movies where blood and human parts fly as part of the excessive violence. A simple plot, a stellar cast, and buckets of blood lighted with Joe Begos’ particular style transmitted with interesting camera tricks and a dirty and granular look, without leaving behind the over-the-top deaths, make “VFW” a must-watch for gorehounds and fans of violence in cinema. Director Joe Begos puts his name again on the radar of horror movie fans and places himself as one of the directors to follow for the coming years.

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