Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week Seventy Seven: In a Valley of Violence

There’s a recurring line in Ti West’s modern Western about the dog character and if he does tricks. Hawke, the hero, always responds, “He bites.” Ironically, the question is far too relevant to the film itself which is nothing but a series of tricks and has absolutely no bite.

I went into this film hopeful but left dismayed. From the cutesy dog tricks (yes, they do in fact happen, straight out of a Disney-film) to the all-to-clever dialog (for every line I could hear that screenwriter typing on the keyboard, pleased with himself), the film is a major disappointment. A couple people I know compared the film to a riff on the Spaghetti Western which I don’t find to be an accurate comparison. Only the musical score hints to that subgenre of the Western and the score is perhaps the only consistently good element of this film. I actually used these tracks as a temp score on my recent movie Counting Bullets and, certainly biased now, feel that are suited for much better material than this weak Western.

Hawke and Travolta are committed and sometimes fun to watch but the dialog that comes out of their mouths is far too contrived and the story is so hollow that the film has no weight. Oh well.