"Ambushed by a Bad Script"
What You Need To Know:
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE has some solid performances, but the script is laughably bad. There’s heavy use of modern-sounding slang. IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE has a strong pagan worldview containing elements of revenge mixed with light moral elements. A drunken priest character portrays Christianity in a bad light. In addition to strong bloody violence, IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE contains some strong foul language. So, the movie is excessive.
(PaPa, B, H, Ab, LL, VVV, S, N, AA, D, MM) Strong, somewhat mixed pagan worldview containing revenge elements mixed with a moral element of righteous judgment, plus an Anti-Christian element regarding a priest character is drunk, suggests he leads “loose women” to God by bedding them and tries to shoot the hero; 8 obscenities and 5 profanities (including some “f” words and GDs); a very strong violence scene where hero slices the throat of a villain with his blood shooting out profusely and lots of strong western action violence such as another villain is shot off-screen and his body falls off roof, man is riddled with bullets when he’s caught in the middle of a duel but the wounds aren’t bloody, villain threatens woman with a gun to her throat and then shoves her to the floor, it’s implied villain stomps on woman with his foot, hero’s dog bites drunken priest’s arm after he tries to shoot hero, villains shoot hero’s dog and stabs dog in front of hero, villains throw hero off cliff, but he survives; priest intimates he leads “loose women” to God by leading them to go to bed with him, and villain in bathtub leers at and taunt young woman to get in a tub with him as she walks away; upper male nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and, cruelty, corruption, intimidation, jealousy, revenge, and bullying but rebuked.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE is a western about a drifter who seeks revenge against corrupt lawmen who threw him off a cliff and left him for dead after killing his dog. IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE has a strong pagan worldview containing elements of revenge mixed with some light moral elements and an Anti-Christian element, along with some strong foul language, so extreme caution is advised.
The story follows Paul (Ethan Hawke), an Army deserter, who left his family behind and is headed to Mexico. Paul’s been traumatized by the Indian wars and racked with guilt that his young daughter has died. He stumbles across a drunken priest. The priest tells Paul of a nearby town called Denton that’s particularly “godless.” However, the priest is corrupt himself, suggesting that he leads “loose women” to God by going to bed with them. So, Paul finds it hard to believe him.
Paul’s dog attacks the priest, biting his arm when he’s about to shoot Paul. Paul then steals the priest’s horse and rides into Denton. There, Paul runs afoul of a town bully named Gilly, who just happens to be the Marshall’s son and deputy. Paul knocks Gilly out with one punch. The Marshal (John Travolta) says he’ll let Paul go free if he leaves town at once.
However, the Marshal’s other corrupt deputies, led by his son Gilly, follow Paul. They ambush Paul at night and shoot his dog before stabbing it in front of him that night. They then throw Paul off a cliff and leave him to die, but Paul wakes up the next morning and goes to seek his revenge.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE has a strong lead performance by Hawke, but writer-director Ti West’s script is laughably bad. The movie has stupid, overly explanatory dialogue all throughout. Also, much of the foul language sounds like present-day talk rather than fitting the 1860s. There’s also heavy use of modern-sounding slang, and the dialogue by every single actor other than Hawke is delivered in over-the-top fashion.
Thus, what could have been a nice addition to the western genre following September’s solid reboot of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN instead is sadly laughable and almost painful to watch. Adding to the problem is the fact that the town seems to have no people in it other than the villains, a couple of women, and the drifter hero. Combined with the movie’s threadbare sets, this problem makes the entire production seem cheap.
The movie is produced by Jason Blum, a master of low-budget horror movies that turn huge profits because they are cleverer than most movies in their genre. West is a talented horror director who also makes above-average movies for that genre, but he and Blum are out of their element making Westerns.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE has a strong pagan worldview containing elements of revenge mixed with some light moral elements. The drunken priest character portrays Christianity in a bad light. In addition to strong bloody violence, IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE also contains some strong foul language. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution.