Do you see the big ‘S’ in Art, Critique, Judgment, or Opinion? Simply looking at the spellings wouldn’t reveal it, but I will have you know what it stands for: Subjectivity. In fact, one of the many themes director Dan Gilroy chooses to showcase in his bizarre film is the dichotomy that is at the very core of the idea of critique, and how subjective everything is: even the very neural genesis of an idea, leave alone the idea itself, and the theory that would suggest such.
Everything, especially something that is as individually experiential as art is open to interpretation, varying opinions and subjective criticism. But who judges those who judge art? Is there a critique of the critic’s critique? These rather grandiose ideas, although impossible in my opinion to be covered reasonably within the purview of any mainstream film, are dabbled with in a satirical, almost comedic fashion in Netflix’s latest release. That, styled as a pretty standard, by the book horror film is what sums up ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’. Here, we dive deep into what that ending meant, the bizarre credits scene with John Malkovich that did bring a smile on my face, and a number of themes that the film tries to merely dip in, avoiding the cost of being preachy at the film’s merit.
The Ending, Explained
Getting down to business, the film’s ending is a rather tense interspersion of three suspenseful and marginally horrifying sequences that see three of our main (and final surviving) characters killed off, owing to the “Vetril Dease curse” on the art. Throughout the film, bizarre occurrences kill off people who stood to benefit, either directly or indirectly, from Dease’s paintings being sold to the outside world, including Bryson, Jon Dondon and Gretchen. The same fate is met by Morf, Josephina and Rhodora as well, something that was evident since the first death, but the fashion in which these three meet their ends is noteworthy, and for the lack of a better word, interesting.
Morf is cornered and trapped by Hoboman, a robotic interactive art installation that Morf negatively reviewed, in his storage warehouse where he is locking up all of Dease’s work he owned. Ironically enough, Hoboman kills him by silencing him first, an act of killing the very voice that was his identity, even virtually so as an art critic with a significant following, covering Morf’s mouth as he muffles for breath, and then snaps his neck. Josephina gets supernaturally trapped inside an art gallery of sorts that is formed rather as a mirage for her to see, the graffiti behind her transforming into the paintings inside her gallery. While there, the colours from the paintings seem to ‘melt’ and climb onto her skin. She is later shown to be inscribed as a part of the graffiti in a state of shock, quite literally consumed by the very art that she had dismissed earlier. “Sad garage space peddling graffiti murals” she remarked, questioning Damrish’s decision to leave Haze Gallery.