In a Valley of Violence review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
In a Valley of Violence is a straightforward tale of intrigue, treachery, betrayal, hero perseverance, and some other qualifications typical for most spaghetti-westerns of history and today. This isn’t to say that In a Valley of Violence is bad; it’s rather an enjoyable flick that offers plenty of action, thrills, and character drama that will keep you captivated in a satisfactory manner up until the credits finally roll. And when they do, you will not be disappointed, nor otherworldly elated – but rather happy that you didn’t pay a ticket for a film that possibly could’ve been worse.
This flick is directed by Ti West (also known for horror indies Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, The Inkeepers, and The House of the Devil), which tries his best to pull off a successful western carried on the shoulders of giants (3:10 to Yuma, Unforgiven, Tombstone). In a Valley of Violence also stars rejuvenated movie stars Ethan Hawke as the former heartthrob whose time is up named Paul and John Travolta portraying the perpetually charming but deadly Marshal in a role that would possibly single-handedly re-kindle his Hollywood endeavors at last (or so we would hope to be the case). In fact, despite being clichéd to death, these characters are very fun and interesting to follow.
Right from the get-go, it’s abundantly clear that Ti West helms the movie in a fashion resembling the old spaghetti westerns. There is nothing new here both in execution and narrative ideas and that’s perfectly fine since In a Valley of Violence doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. The only (and main) difference that sets apart this newer western piece from its predecessors is the heroic journey. In particular, at first the hero avoids confrontations and conflict and just wants to be left alone. Also, the hero is nowhere near that title: he doesn’t deserve it because he’s a coward and an army deserter who left his family without the slightest sign of regret. An anti-hero basically. The villain you ask?
Well, the villain is portrayed as an idiosyncratic merge of two-thirds righteous man and one-third… actually I won’t greenlight myself into spoiling the whole experience, so I’ll stop right here.
In a Valley of Violence is an overall fun western movie that offers a lot of action thrills, with some quality drama sprinkled all throughout the film that make it that more enjoyable as well. The plot is very basic, but so is life: you’re born, you grow old, and you eventually kiss your life goodbye. To this extent, it can be said without a doubt that In a Valley of Violence imitates life to its smallest, bizarre details, period.