In a Valley of Violence feels like a movie where a cast and crew of mixed indie and Hollywood favourites felt like making a Western solely because they realized they never have before, and just went ahead and did it. To do so, they took a cursory look at the IMDb summary for John Wick, added some horses, and started shooting. It’s a bit rough around the edges and certainly is far from original, but its a hell of a lot of fun. Director Ti West and his crew actually built a full-size set in New Mexico, and they show it off often (one of the final act’s greatest assets is its well-defined geometry). Each of the actors is given a trope and has fun with it, from John Travolta’s perpetually put-upon marshall to Karen Gillan’s astoundingly funny hotelier. Ethan Hawke spends a bit too much time monologuing to his far-too-adorable dog, but his sole purpose is to sell us some righteous justice. This isn’t Unforgiven; when violence arrives, it rarely asks us to pause for a moment to question morality. The poor-mans-Morricone score and fantastic opening credits, a pastiche of of monochrome cutouts riding against of black background, sell its B-movie aspirations, and while it never transcends that level, it meets its goals just fine.
In a Valley of Violence (2016)
Directed by Ti West
Starring Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, and John Travolta
Rotten Tomatoes (77%)