‘For the Sake of Vicious’ Spills More Blood Than Story

Ultra-violent indie offers visceral thrills but needs more narrative meat on its bones

It takes a lot to shock modern audiences.

We’ve been weaned on ’70s grindhouse films, Quentin Tarantino romps and a brief round of torture porn.

Blood? Violence? Gore? Been there, seen that. “For the Sake of Vicious” would like a word, please.

The indie thriller challenges our senses with a giddy sense of mayhem. It’s a good thing, too, since the story in play is so minimal you could explain it all on a cocktail napkin.

For the Sake of Vicious (2021) Official Trailer

All Romina (Lora Burke) wants to do after a long shift at the hospital is soak up some peace and quiet.

Not happening.

She comes home to find two people in her kitchen. Chris (a wild-eyed Nick Smyth) is holding her landlord hostage, his body bound to a chair. Chris thinks Alan (Colin Paradine) is the monster who sexually assaulted his daughter five years ago but got away with it.

Alan denies the charge, but Chris is in no mood to hear otherwise.

Romina isn’t sure who, or what, to believe. When an outside party invades the home, “For the Sake of Vicious” takes an unforgettable turn. With apologies to Paul Thomas Anderson, there will be blood.

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Step aside Tarantino. Watch and learn, Eli Roth. “Vicious” delivers a toe-curling second and third act that will shock and surprise viewers. That’s assuming they haven’t slammed their eyelids shut at some point along the way.

This critic sure did.

There’s clearly cinematic skill on display, and Canadian directors Gabriel Carrer and Reese Eveneshen conduct the chaos with a keen sense of adventure, even mirth.

It helps that the protagonists don’t fit any particular mold. Poor Romina is forced to defend herself, but she’s neither a woke warrior nor skirt-clutching victim. Chris’ character makes the least sense, but Smyth throws every molecule of his being into the part, so we (almost) buy it.

“For the Sake of Vicious” clocks in at 80 minutes, and that’s being generous. It still feels bloated, including a final image that lingers so long you’ll think they left the camera running o add seconds to the running time.

Burke fares best here, flashing a maternal side even under the worst circumstances. The rest of the cast labor under masks, and there’s nothing about their performances to note beyond an ability to display intense pain and suffering.

We repeat, this film is not for the faint of heart.

“Vicious” opens with a lean but recognizable conflict, and the subsequent scenes flirt with someone profound. Yet the rest of the film discards those intriguing threads. 

“Vicious” is a bucking bronco of a movie, all but daring you to hang on tight. There’s no sin in letting go, but those who hold on will find some modest rewards.

HiT or Miss: “For the Sake of Vicious” offers some truth in advertising. It’s vicious, all right, and that’s its best selling point.

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