Blumhouse is a production company primarily known for low-budget horror fare like Paranormal Activity, Sinister, and Insidious. They have a recognizable brand that they’ve built a sustainable following on. Most of their films make a healthy profit, which allows themm to venture outside of their comfort zone every now and then. That might explain why they funded writer/director Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence. The film is a dialogue heavy Western that plays much like an homage to some of the most iconic titles of the genre.
In the film, you’re introduced to Paul (played by Ethan Hawke), a man of mystery that the film is content telling you very little about at first. He is on his way to Mexico with his dog Abby, but needs to cross through a small town named Denton. Trouble ensues, in more ways than one, and the film unfolds from there. To say much more about the events of the film may ruin the suspense.
The film’s strongest selling point is the writing by Ti West, especially the dialogue. While the story itself is quite predictable for those with knowledge of certain films, the dialogue these characters are provided give this movie so much life you can forgive its lack of originality. The entire cast is perfectly suited for their roles. John Travolta in particular stands out as a highlight in this film, alongside Hawke and James Ransone. All three embody their characters perfectly, and their interactions in the film are continuous highlights.
On top of terrific dialogue and great acting, the film’s technical aspects are on point as well. Eric Robbins’ cinematography is just what you want from a good Western, as is Jeff Grace’s score. The environment this film creates feels like a perfect homage to what came before, while West’s dialogue and directorial style gives it that edge it needs to stand on its own feet.
For fans of Westerns, In a Valley of Violence is a must-see. It is well scripted, beautifully shot, terrifically acted, and has a great score. While the story is a bit predictable, the film makes up for it in spades with its style and sincere love for the western genre. This might just be one of the best westerns made in recent years.