Story: Jack Mason (George Saunders) is trying to put the pieces of his life back together, after the death of his child and a divorce from his wife Jennifer (Vanessa Georgio). He has thrown himself into his work and as a homicide detective in Los Angeles, that means there is always a new case to distract him from his personal woes. His latest case involves a series of brutal, sexual murders that left the victims mutilated in the wake of the passion. A murder is horrific enough, but one that involves sex and the removal of sex organs seems especially heinous, even to a seasoned cop like Jack. As he delves into the dark world of these murders, can he put the puzzle together in time to prevent more deaths and when his wife becomes involved, how will Jack handle her presence?
Entertainment Value: This is a low rent blend of erotic thriller and cop action movie, an experience that often defies reason, but also rarely fails to entertain. George Saunders serves as writer, director, producer, and lead actor, which should be a clue that Vendetta is an inexplicable cinematic ride. The narrative is dark and comic in equal doses, with the horrific child murder backstory and the outlandish thriller elements that follow. I can’t even really describe the vibe present in Vendetta, as it has such an odd tone and makes some wild choices, like a less serious, lower rent version of some of David Heavener’s action thrillers. Which makes sense, since b movie icon Heavener served as a producer here, likely making this cheesier through osmosis. There are a number of bad sex scenes, which add to the entertainment and a guy throws a temper tantrum while totally naked, which is fun. Vendetta has some action as well, with shootouts, fights, and a slow, casual car chase. The pace is going to hit different depending on how you appreciate this kind of offbeat, colorful material, as it was a breeze for me, but if you’re not into it, this could be a brutal watch. I had fun with Vendetta and I think it deserves a much higher profile within its b movie peers.
As I said above, when one person handles nearly aspect of a production, I’m usually interested, as that can lead to some curious cinematic experiences. In this case, George Saunders wore many hats during the shoot and that includes the lead role of course, which he plays with the kind of manic energy and lack of editing that I hoped would be here. The script takes some bold paths and Saunders really runs with the weirdness as a performer, showing immense enthusiasm as he rattles off awkward, stilted, and wildly inappropriate dialogue through Vendetta. His interactions with his costars are often hilarious too, as he seems so artificial and awkward, which might displease some, but I was having a blast watching Saunders unleash his acting skills here. I also cracked up at Vanessa Georgio, who plays Saunders’ character’s wife and does so with a strange vibe that I can’t pin down. When the two share scenes, it is quite a ride and their night together was a highlight of this madness. The cast also includes Joey Travolta, Richard Lynch, and Art Cohan.