In a Valley of Violence
|In a Valley of Violence|
|Directed by||Ti West|
|Written by||Ti West|
|Edited by||Ti West|
|Music by||Jeff Grace|
|Distributed by||Focus World|
In a Valley of Violence is a 2016 American Western film written and directed by Ti West. Jason Blum serves as producer through his production company Blumhouse Productions. The film stars Ethan Hawke, Taissa Farmiga, James Ransone, Karen Gillan, and John Travolta. It had its world premiere at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016, and was released in a limited release and through video on demand on October 21, 2016, by Focus World. It was a commercial failure grossing only $61,797, but received critical praise for the screenplay, direction, and the performances.
A drifter named Paul and his dog, Abbie, make their way towards Mexico through the desert of the Old West. They encounter a priest attempting to get to the nearby town of Denton. The priest holds Paul at gunpoint in order to steal his horse, but Paul has Abbie attack him; the drifter then takes the bullets out of the priest's revolver and his water canteen, then goes on his way. Paul enters Denton in order to get supplies and reduce their journey time.
In the local tavern, Paul meets Gilly Martin, an obnoxious man who challenges him to a fight when Paul ignores his attempt to start a conversation. In order to coax him out of the tavern, Gilly approaches Abbie, but Paul knocks him out. Gilly's fiancée Ellen rushes to his aid as Paul makes his way into the town's hotel. Ellen's younger sister Mary-Anne works at the hotel and draws Paul and Abbie a bath to thank him for having stood up to Gilly.
Paul finds Marshal Clyde Martin waiting for him in the inn's lobby. The Marshal reveals that Gilly is his deputy and his son, but assured Paul that he knows Gilly provoked the incident. He identifies Paul as an ex-soldier, and requests he leave Denton and never return. Before Paul moves on, Mary-Anne gives him a picture to remember her by. That night, Paul and Abbie are found by Gilly and his henchmen Roy, Tubby and Harris. They label Paul an Army deserter and traitor, kill Abbie and push Paul off a cliff. An injured Paul awakens the next day, buries Abbie and swears revenge. On his way back to the town, Paul again encounters the priest and steals his mule and revolver.
Back in Denton, Mary-Anne shelters Paul at her father's house and offers help. She begs Paul to take her away from the town once he gets revenge. He refuses, telling her that he abandoned his wife and daughter to enlist and never intends to return. At the hotel, Paul kills Roy in a bathroom. The Marshal is alerted to the situation and has the men prepare for a fight. He orders Gilly to stay behind to keep the women safe. Gilly accuses Mary-Anne of aiding Paul and while arguing Ellen reveals to Gilly that she is pregnant.
On the roof of the jailhouse, Paul shoots Harris when the latter at gunpoint refuses to shoot at Tubby and the Marshal. Inside the jailhouse, upset at the deaths of Roy and Harris, Tubby is unable to cope with the bloodshed and throws down his gun. Paul shoots Tubby in the back through a window. The Marshal agrees to leave his weapons inside so that they can talk. Gilly then comes out to end Paul, but the Marshal refuses to get out of the way. Gilly and Paul proceed to shoot at each other with the Marshal in the way, fatally shooting him in the process.
Paul is wounded and hides in a barn. When Gilly enters, Paul slips a noose over his head and hangs him then proceeds to beat him then relents. As Gilly draws a knife, Mary-Anne appears and shoots him in the back. Mary-Anne and Paul make their way back to the inn, Ellen finds Gilly's body. The priest wanders back through Denton and Paul suggests that he should stay.
- Ethan Hawke as Paul
- Taissa Farmiga as Mary-Anne
- James Ransone as Deputy Gilly Martin
- Karen Gillan as Ellen
- John Travolta as Marshal Clyde Martin
- Burn Gorman as Priest
- Toby Huss as Harris
- Larry Fessenden as Roy
- K. Harrison Sweeney as William T. Baxter
- Tommy Nohilly as Tubby
- Jumpy as Abbie
I had a Western that I was going to write. Then I heard Ethan Hawke wanted to do a Western, so I went to New York where he was doing Macbeth and I asked him about Westerns and pitched him my idea, and he liked it. So I was like, 'Alright, when you wrap, I'm going to send you a script and if you want to do it, let's do it, [and] if you don't, I'll just take the risk.'
– Ti West on the development of the project and his first meeting with Hawke
The film was written and directed by Ti West, in collaboration with Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures. West also served as a producer for the project, alongside Blum, Jacob Jaffke and Peter Phok. In July 2014, Blum discussed his involvement with the film, "After Ethan [Hawke] and I did Sinister and The Purge, he really, really wanted to do a Western ... It took about a year to find In a Valley of Violence ... which is Ti West's movie." He added about what drew him to the project, "[West's] approach to filmmaking, I love. He pitched me this idea and I thought it was really cool." In March 2016, West revealed in an interview he had written the role with Hawke in mind.
On March 18, 2014, The Hollywood Reporter announced that the film would star John Travolta and Ethan Hawke in main roles, with Hawke portraying the film's protagonist Paul, and Travolta portraying the Marshal Clyde Martin, who has a wooden leg. On May 22, 2014, Deadline Hollywood reported that Taissa Farmiga had been cast as Mary-Anne, a young innkeeper. The following day, Karen Gillan was cast as Ellen, the sister of Farmiga's character. On June 3, 2014, it was announced that James Ransone had been cast in the final main role of Deputy Gilly Martin, the fiancé of Ellen and the son of the Marshal.
While promoting the film, West spoke about finding a "talented" dog to fill the role of Abbie, Paul's canine companion. The part was given to Jumpy, whose trainer, Omar von Muller, also trained Uggie, the late star of The Artist (2011).
Principal photography for the project began on June 23, 2014, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and lasted approximately five weeks, 25 days in total. The film was shot on 35mm film. A makeshift Western town was built at Cerro Pelon Ranch in Galisteo, New Mexico for the duration of production and was used as the primary location for filming. The elaborate set consisted of a saloon, ramshackle houses, train tracks and a feed-and-seed store. The film's cinematographer, Eric Robbins, revealed that since they were shooting on film, footage wouldn't be seen for several days. Travolta finished filming his scenes on July 16, 2014. Gillan wrapped her scenes on July 18, and Farmiga completed her scenes the following day, on July 19, 2014. On July 26, 2014, Ti West announced on his Twitter account that principal photography for the film had concluded.
West edited the film in Burbank, California. On September 8, 2014, West appeared on Bret Easton Ellis' podcast and discussed the filming process of In a Valley of Violence, stating, "It's a Western from the first shot, so I'm really interested to hear people calling it slow burn ... It's a Western from frame one to the end frame, so there's no 'and then it became a Western' – it's always a Western. And that's kind of refreshing for me to make. It's just been artistically a pleasure to do." On April 22, 2015, a raw cut of the film was test screened at the ArcLight cinema in Pasadena, California. In late September 2015, West stated on his official Twitter account that the film was in the final stages of post-production.
|In a Valley of Violence: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||October 21, 2016|
|Label||Back Lot Music|
On January 12, 2015, it was announced that composer Jeff Grace had been hired to write the musical score for the film, marking the fourth time Grace has scored for Ti West, having previously composed music for three of West's feature films: Trigger Man (2007), The House of the Devil (2009), and The Innkeepers (2011). The soundtrack album, featuring Grace's original score, was released via digital download by Back Lot Music on the same day as the film's theatrical and VOD release: October 21, 2016.
|1.||"Priests and Sinners"||6:10|
|8.||"Hesitation Will Get You Killed"||3:21|
|9.||"Returning To Town"||2:58|
|11.||"Surrender and Standoff"||2:55|
On August 17, 2015, the first still image from the film was released in black and white, featuring Ethan Hawke riding a horse. Two more images were released on February 25, 2016, along with a more detailed plot synopsis. In March 2016, the first poster for the film was released by Entertainment Weekly, shortly before its world premiere. The first clip from the film, featuring Hawke and Travolta, was released in July 2016, ahead of its screening at the Fantasia International Film Festival. The official trailer debuted on Entertainment Weekly's website on July 19, 2016.
In a Valley of Violence had its world premiere as a headlining film at South by Southwest on March 12, 2016. The film screened at the Chicago Critics Film Festival on May 25, 2016, followed by a Q&A with West, and the Seattle International Film Festival on May 28, 2016. Prior to its premiere, Focus World acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film, with Universal Pictures set to distribute internationally.
In a Valley of Violence was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on December 27, 2016, with special features including a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
In a Valley of Violence was released to 33 theaters across the United States on October 21, 2016, and made $10,722 in its first day of release. In its opening weekend, the film made $29,343, for a per theater average of $889. Overall, the film made $61,797 in the United States, taking $44,738 in its first week, and $17,059 in its second and final week of release.
The film received positive reviews from critics. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, it received a 77% approval rating, based on 69 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.79/10. The critical consensus reads, "In a Valley of Violence offers a smartly conceived homage to classic Westerns that transcends pastiche with absurdist humor and a terrific cast." Metacritic reports a score of 64 out of 100, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Andrew Barker for Variety wrote, "Stripping its gunslinger plot down to the most essential pillars, the film has plenty of incidental pleasures to offer: a few chuckles, some typically Westian explosions of violence, a deliriously fun score, and a pair of perfectly solid performances from Ethan Hawke and John Travolta." John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter, who in his review praised the performance of Hawke but found Travolta miscast, wrote of the film, "A genre revival that's always enjoyable, even when suffering a minor personality crisis near the end." Bill Goodykoontz of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 out of 5 stars, writing, "... what makes In a Valley of Violence a notch better than a simple genre exercise is West's sense of fun. Occasionally he overindulges it, but it serves the film well."
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