In a Valley of Violence (2016)

Hypothetical Netflix Rating: 3.2 out of 5 stars

In a Valley of Violence tells the story of Ethan Hawke, a man so to himself he talks to his dog more than any other character in the first ACT. In this western, Hawke is making his way to Mexico after peacing out from the war effort. You know. The Civil War. Because it’s a western. He abandoned the cause because of all the innocent Native women and children he killed. Because it’s a western. Also there’s a rattle snake. Because…you get my point.

For a director and writer who I admire very much for his work in the horror genre, Ti West didn’t really bring anything new or interesting to the western genre. Which you think he would have, being that you can’t spell “Western” without “West”, but instead what he gave us was a series of tropes blended with the themes of other movies, mostly First Blood and John Wick. Yeah, you totally read that right. Take the PTSD themes from First Blood and the revenge plot from John Wick, set it in the most stereotypical old west you can think of and you got yourself In a Valley of Violence. It was like Mad Libs for movies.

But that doesn’t mean I hated. No. If I hated it, it wouldn’t have scored above a 2. Come on people, you should know how rating systems work by now, you’re…adults? I actually don’t know you. Maybe I’m projecting. I digress.

This was actually Ethan Hawke’s first western. Although Magnificent Seven got released first, turns out In a Valley of Violence finished wrapping first. Isn’t Hollywood fun?  Anywho, he actually did a pretty good job playing old timey John Rambo-Wick. Kinda weird how “John” is pretty much very action hero’s name. I guess his name was Paul in this one, if you wanna be technical. Whatever whatever. Ethan Hawke did well. The rest of the cast did great too.

Quick run down: you got John Travolta as the Marshal, Taissa Farmiga as the only one on John Wick’s, I mean Paul’s side, James Ransone (who was in Sinister with Ethan Hawke) as the douche bag who hates Rambo out of boredom, Karen Gillan as James Ransone girlfriend who is also a douche for no good reason, Burn Gorman as the drunken priest who acts as an ACT marker in the movie getting only two or three scenes, and Larry Fessenden as Larry Fessenden. I like Larry a lot. He pops up in a couple of Ti West’s films in little bit parts as well as Ti West type movies. Something about the shape of his head is oddly appealing to the eye. That made me sound like a serial killer and I apologize Larry. Please don’t tell the cops about those letters…which I totally didn’t send by the way. Anywho.

I was really looking forward to watching this movie, and this could very well be one of those situations where expectations didn’t meet up with reality, so that’s what really brought this movie don’t in my mind. I can’t be sure. Either way, it’s worth the watch if you got nothing better to do.


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