At least "In a Valley of Violence" is not as agonizingly predictable as the director's previous waste of time. I am someone who believes that a movie without one single moment you couldn't imagine after reading a one sentence, or even one word, description of the plot, is a movie you have no reason to watch.
How is it that you know the name Ti West? A guy whose movies are as formulaic as these should be directing episodes of Big Bang Theory. But he does do them well, and gives his superior actors room to breathe. The problem is that he "writes" these movies himself – if you can call stringing a bunch of clichés together "writing".
This is a movie that is so predictable that you don't notice the genre clichés that would have rubbed you wrong in a better movie, i.e.. the main character being the typical hard-bitten and reluctant hero type who doesn't say much, who never intended to draw steel but ended up being forced to. And how about the town being basically just two rows of houses with a "main street" running down the middle? Is there a "saloon" with rooms to rent upstairs? How about a plucky young heroine who dreams of escape and thinks the hero might be her ticket out? He doesn't take her at first. Of course.
No, it was the smaller details that rubbed me wrong. For example: before killing his first victim, why does the typically terse hero suddenly become insanely verbose, rabbiting on like someone who has truly lost control of himself? What was the point of the speech where he outlines exactly what he's doing as if it wasn't already completely obvious, not only to the audience, but also the victim? And when the bad guy has the plucky heroine up against the wall with a gun to her throat, and he begins threatening her, what does she do next? Her response is engraved in stone, alongside the "all towns in Westerns are just two rows of houses with a street down the middle" rule, in a tablet enshrined in the Screenwriters' Guild bathroom.
When the camera focused on the heroine's determined eyes in the climax, I cringed. This is West relying not only on cliché, but on the trend of the day: girl power.
Having read this far, you might wonder why I didn't give the film a lower rating. The answer is that for all the predictability, "In a Valley of Violence" has actors who you can't help watching and rooting for, especially Taissa Farmiga, one of the best young actors in the world, who gives this tired material more energy than it deserves.
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