The rescue of A24 has come at the best time for Ti West, who finds himself in a shower of praise with his sensational slasher ‘X ‘, new to our theaters. The director has spent a period of semi-retirement from feature films to sharpen his craft and his fang as a craftsman in different series, and his growth has been truly noticeable. Although that doesn’t mean that before he didn’t do very interesting genre works.
Even with certain imperfections, they are really interesting works because of their character and their decisions, as is also the case in his western ‘ The Valley of Vengeance ‘, the only film that we can find by West right now in streaming. Specifically, on Netflix, and for a limited time (on May 15 it leaves the platform), so it’s best not to get lost with it.
not without my dog
In ‘The Valley of Vengeance’ we are introduced to a lonely cowboy ( Ethan Hawke ) whose only company is his horse, which allows him to move from one side of the Wild West to the other, and a charismatic dog full of surprises as it is fierce. resources when fighting. In the opening sequence, we see this almost nameless horseman who dispatches a threat with ease and charisma, establishing the particular tone that this story is going to have.
West’s works have been characterized by an interesting tendency to anachronism that distinguishes them from any other contemporary work, almost turning him into a phenomenon that swims against the current. His first great work, ‘The House of the Devil’, seemed like a horror film straight out of the eighties, and ‘ The Sacrament ‘ stretched the limits of found footage when we were fed up with found footage Our protagonist enters a small seedy town and from which he has heard many warnings, but it is an obligatory step to reach his destination. In what should be an easy passing moment, stopping at the bar to collect himself, he ends up in an altercation where he humiliatingly knocks out the sheriff’s son. Unfortunately, this will not remain an anecdote and will lead to an escalation of violence, as the original title (“In a Valley of Violence”) promises.
The style of ‘The Valley of Vengeance’ differs from many modern westerns, which tend towards a certain solemnity or towards an accentuation of brutality. We have a gritty tone, very gritty even, that is spiced up with a very rogue, almost cartoonish comedy, especially shown in the interactions between Hawke and his charismatic dog. It’s a tricky mix, but West gets a gunslinger halfway between Clint Eastwood’s unnamed horseman and Lucky Luke.
‘The Valley of Vengeance’: between Clint Eastwood and Lucky Luke
That particular sense of humor is what is going to cause some misunderstanding, especially among the most traditional western fans, but it is one of the elements that make it a special film. In addition, his tendency to exaggeration does not collide with wanting to make a really crude and violent story, where West also manages to make fascinating sequences such as the darkest point of the entire film, where he plays with the formal elements in a challenging way but that leaves you absorbed.
As in West’s previous works, its impressive ambition is not always matched by flawless execution, and there are times when the story loses its grip. But this ambition is still appreciated, and the action unfolds in a powerful and energetic way even without having an infinity of resources -we have not mentioned it, but this movie comes with a Blumhouse stamp-. At the very least, it is worth an interesting stone on the road to appreciate Ti West.