Shudder Streaming: For The Sake of Vicious (2021) - Reviewed

After a hard day at work, most people want to go home and unwind. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen according to plan.  In Gabriel Carrer and Reese Evenshen’s For the Sake of Vicious, the protagonist comes home to an alarming situation taking place — and as the film’s name suggests, it certainly is vicious.

Romina (Lora Burke) is a nurse looking forward to going home, decompressing a bit, and taking her son trick-or-treating on Halloween.  However, the second she steps foot into her home, she realizes her evening won’t pan out in the way she expected.  A volatile man named Chris (Nick Smyth) is in Romina’s kitchen, along with a bloodied, beaten man on the brink of death named Alan (Colin Paradine).  Romina has connections to both men:  she has treated Chris’s daughter at her hospital, while Alan is her landlord.  Chris has accused Alan of raping his daughter, which Alan adamantly denies, and Romina is caught in the middle of their conflict now.  Tensions rise when Alan makes a call to some menacing individuals who are a little less helpful than expected when they arrive, leading to a spree of mayhem and murder throughout Romina’s house.


For the Sake of Vicious is a tight, singularly focused thriller that succeeds in many regards, particularly with its pacing.  Clocking in at only 80 minutes, the plot manages to unfold at a solid, steady pace.  While there’s a bit too much back-and-forth about Alan’s alleged misdoings at the beginning, once Romina is actively pulled into Chris and Alan’s dispute against her will, it’s a brutal battle until the closing credits.  All three of the main actors bring strong performances that keep the audience engaged, and while there’s very little depth to them or character development that takes place, they play their characters with the conviction needed for a premise like this one. 


A great deal of restraint in the storytelling is shown, which aids the tight pacing, but is sometimes to the film’s detriment.  While the dialogue usually has a knack for getting to the point, key plot elements are glossed over when they need to be better explained for the audience to feel fully invested, particularly regarding the backstory of Alan and how he’s connected to the masked intruders who show up halfway through the film.  The flashbacks aren’t rewarding either, and the likely intentional ambiguity is frustrating at times.  There’s enough information for intelligent speculation, but not enough for some much-needed clarity.


The sparseness and ambiguity of the story combined with an escalating amount of violence and bloodshed give this film an exploitative air.  Once the criminals who Alan calls upon enter the picture, it’s nonstop carnage with increasingly gratuitous kills and creative weapons, displaying impressive practical gore effects the entire way through.  Nevertheless, the film could have benefitted from brief moments of levity to balance the serious tone out a bit and drive home the “exploitation film” vibe.  It almost takes itself too seriously, which doesn’t mesh well with its over-the-top approach.


Lean, cold, and cruel, For the Sake of the Vicious is not for the faint of heart, but for those with a strong stomach and appetite for destruction, this small film will be entertaining at the very least.


-Andrea Riley