In a Valley of Violence full movie review - Ti West's foray into the western genre is a complete success!
'In a Valley of Violence' is a movie that absolutely deserves its title as it is indeed violent.
With this gritty western-that was shot on real film-director Ti West, who has been making a name for himself in the horror genre with 2009's indie hit 'The House of the Devil' and 2011's 'The Innkeepers,' tried out a completely different genre than what we are used to seeing from him. It's obvious that West is a film aficionado who has seen a lot of movies, studied them and uses his knowledge very skillfully to create something new and refreshing much like Quentin Tarantino does. Still, I couldn't estimate how he would do in the western genre as most of the projects he was associated with up to this point were horror-related. What can I say, West knows his westerns! That is very obvious when you watch 'In a Valley of Violence' and know a couple of movies from the genre. It's as if West combined all of the best elements from 1960s westerns like 'For a Handful of Dollars,' 'Once Upon a Time in the West' or 'The Wild Bunch' and paired them with the sort of graphic violence that is usually found in horror movies, and it works very well. I'd say it's rare that a genre director's first attempt at a different genre turns out so well as it did here.
The movie's plot about a mysterious stranger who passes through a town ruled by a gang of misfits who kill his best friend and leave the stranger for dead is one of the classic western themes. The twist here is that the best friend is a super cool dog who can do spectacular tricks ("He bites."). Of course the stranger, who is portrayed splendidly by Ethan Hawke, isn't dead and comes back to take revenge on the hoodlums who did him wrong. The performances from the whole cast are excellent! Ethan Hawke is great in the lead role and James Ransone ('Sinister') is equally convincing in the role of Gilly, the main antagonist. John Travolta portrays the town's marshal, who also happens to be Gilly's father, and it's one of Travolta's finest performances in recent memory. The charming Taissa Farmiga ('The Final Girls') and Karen Gillan ('Oculus') are also very good in their roles as managers of the local hotel. Taissa's character is fascinated by the stranger and helps him achieve his revenge. The direction and cinematography are excellent, as is the film score by Jeff Grace, who has composed and performed the scores for the majority of Ti West's movies, is reminiscent of Ennio Morricone and completes the gritty western experience of 'In a Valley of Violence.' The score combines elements of some of the most familiar themes found in spaghetti westerns and it sounds like it could be straight out of a classic Clint Eastwood movie.
I think 'In a Valley of Violence' is Ti West's most accomplished movie yet. I loved 'In the House of the Devil' and especially 'The Innkeepers,' but the latter only grew on me with multiple viewings. 'In a Valley of Violence' convinced me from the beginning an I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I highly recommend this movie to fans of violent westerns!