In a Valley of Violence

Rated 3.0

Horror fans know director Ti West for his cult classic horror film House of the Devil, and the horror films V/H/S, The Innkeepers and The Sacrament. His latest, starring Ethan Hawke and John Travolta, is a major departure from his usual projects, a capable, full-on homage to Sergio Leone Westerns. Hawke plays Paul, a drifter who finds himself in a frontier ghost town with a few remaining inhabitants. He and his dog immediately get into some trouble with Gilly (James Ransome), the son of the town marshal (Travolta). Bad things transpire—this is sort of John Wick set in the old wild West—and Paul sets out for revenge. The resultant gunfights are nicely staged, accentuated by good work from Hawke, Travolta and Ransome. While Hawke is always reliable these days, Travolta’s film career has been on a bit of a downslide (one of a few his career has endured). His performance here as a semi-crooked lawman with a small streak of decency is actually funny at times, and consists of his best work in a film in over five years. (He was also quite good as Robert Shapiro in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.) The film’s biggest surprise is Taissa Farmiga, providing solid comic relief as a fast-talking hotel operator. Available for rent through iTunes, On Demand and during a limited theatrical release.)