The Western used to be one of the biggest – if not the biggest – genres in Hollywood, with tons of A-list stars and acclaimed filmmakers getting in on the fun. Nowadays, of course, we don’t see too many Westerns anymore, though every once in a while a gem like Django Unchained, 3:10 to Yuma or the True Grit remake will pop up and remind us of why they’re so enjoyable.
Of course, many modern takes on the genre have tried to put their own spin on the tropes as well, with everything from big budget blockbuster The Lone Ranger to disappointing comic book adaptation Jonah Hex and even the animated Rango all attempting something new. Which didn’t always work out, but it’s still nice to see filmmakers trying to apply a fresh coat of paint to one of Hollywood’s oldest genres.
Perhaps one of the better recent efforts, though, was In a Valley of Violence, which saw director Ti West venture past his horror roots to deliver a film that scored well with critics, earning a 77% on Rotten Tomatoes. It can certainly be seen as underrated, though, as it doesn’t get brought up a whole lot in conversation and is mostly forgotten about now. But thanks to its recent arrival on Netflix, it’s seeing a sudden surge of popularity and is currently sitting as the platform’s seventh most-watched movie in the US.
For those unfamiliar, In a Valley of Violence tells the story of a mysterious drifter who finds himself in a ramshackle town which is overrun by a group of dangerous hoodlums. Ethan Hawke does terrific work in the lead role and John Travolta offers up one of his best performances in a long time playing the town’s infamous Marshal.
It’s not likely to leave you feeling like you just watched an all-time classic, but the strong performances matched with a compelling, gritty tale certainly make for a few hours of enjoyable entertainment and as an homage to the Western genre, it works quite well on multiple fronts.