In Netflix’s Velvet Buzzsaw trailer, the art world intermixes with supernatural horror. For Dan Gilroy’s latest film, he reunites with Nightcrawler actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo.
Released in 2014, Nightcrawler explores the paparazzi underworld in Los Angeles. As the morally compromised Lou Bloom, Gyllenhaal embodies the dark side of big city photojournalism, as he transforms from an articulate wannabe into a scheming do-it-yourself opportunist. Produced for a mere $8 million, Nightcrawler earned $50 million at the box office and remains relevant for its themes about modern media and society. After working as a screenwriter for 20 years, during which Gilroy wrote The Bourne Legacy (2012) for his brother Tony Gilroy, Nightcrawler marked his directorial debut, followed up in 2017 with the Denzel Washington legal drama Roman J. Israel, Esq. For Nightcrawler, Gilroy earned a Best Screenplay award at the Independent Spirit Awards and also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Today, Netflix released Velvet Buzzsaw’s trailer, in which Gyllenhaal stars as Morf Vandewalt, a contemporary art critic. During the opening shot, the character examines a piece of art while musing about the downside of criticism. From there, a full screen eye visual sets the tone for a hyper narrative in which John Malkovich’s artist character struggles with alcoholism, or rather struggles with alcoholism in that he needs to drink to produce quality art. There’s a wink-of-the-eye effect with each line of dialogue, as the characters navigate an elitist realm, one that opens up a supernatural world of horror. When Rene Russo’s character discovers the surrealist work of a recently-deceased artist, her quest for quick cash backfires, as the painting subjects come to life and wreak havoc. Gyllenhaal’s character then identifies the late artist’s “disgust for the world of money,” thus underlining the primary theme that drives the central conflict, and of which leads to the trailer’s chaotic second half.
For Gyllenhaal, Velvet Buzzsaw marks his follow-up to the 2018 dramas Wildlife and The Sisters Brothers, directed by Paul Dano and Jacques Audiard, respectively. Just last month, the American actor trolled fans with a comedic Instagram video, in which he at once confirms his involvement in the upcoming Marvel film Spider-Man: Far From Home while acting shocked that he’s not playing the titular role. Gyllenhaal is expected to play Quentin Beck aka Mysterio, an Elemental expert recruited by Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.
Throughout his career, Gyllenhaal hasn’t taken himself too seriously, and the Velvet Buzzsaw trailer taps into that sentiment. With such an incredible supporting cast, consisting of Toni Collette (Hereditary), Natalia Dyer (Stranger Things), and Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting), the Netflix film appears to infused with self-awareness and a supernatural element that will draw in various demographics.
Velvet Buzzsaw will screen in select theaters and will be available to stream on February 1.