Following the trippy vampire movie Bliss, comes Joe Begos’s take on an over-the-top action story with VFW. We join Fred (Stephen Lang), who, alongside a group of fellow war veterans, is forced to defend their VFW post from a group of drug dealers. A teen girl (Sierra McCormick) has, after her sister ODed, stolen their stash and barricaded herself inside the post, hunted not just by the dealers, but also a herd of drugged-out mutants.
There are echoes of Bliss in VFW, in such that the vampires served as a loose metaphor for addicts in the former. Here, he mutants aren’t really mutants, but rather stoned-out, adrenaline-pumped human beings. In a sense, VFW is a zombie movie without zombies. Night of The Living Dead without the dead.
A large part of the team behind Bliss is back, meaning we get treated to some deeply saturated shots courtesy of DP Mike Testin and a droning synth soundtrack by Steve Moore. VFW both looks and sounds like its predecessor, though without being derivative. While the lighting is similar to its predecessor, VFW is less grungy and more dusty, which goes well in hand with the group of aging veterans. The bar might not be pretty in its deprecating state, but the red, blue, and purple hues make for a captivating scene all the same. It’s also great to see Dora Madison back after her tour-de-force performance in Bliss.
It’s a violent movie, VFW, but it also goes far enough over the top not to be taken too seriously. The borderline cyberpunk clad antagonists aren’t anything many would identify with. That’s not a bad thing, and as hoards of mutants are storming the VFW, you can sit down and enjoy the carnage without investing too many emotions into it. That’s not to say the veterans themselves aren’t likable. They are, and there is even a bit of a
real feeling to their
we do what we have to do to defend the young girl. Yet, this isn’t a film where you form connections on a deep level. You both come and stay for the action, and cheer for the old guys to win. It’s escapism, and that’s perfectly fine.
I’m sure VFW was shot on a B-movie budget – there basically are only two locations in the whole film – but on a technical level, it fits squarely in the A grade. Consider VFW a highly satisfying watch if you’re feeling like rooting for a pack of old veterans mowing down hoards of mutants.
As in Bliss, George Wendt has a small role in VFW. I don’t know why, but it’s fun to see him sitting in the same spot he sat at in Cheers all the same.