The Western used to be the biggest and most popular genre in Hollywood, reigning supreme for decades as almost every A-list star and respected filmmaker journeyed to the Old West. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be as much interest in producing them as there used to be, but we have seen plenty of recent gems like Django Unchained, 3:10 to Yuma, the True Grit remake and Open Range.
Instead of taking the old-fashioned route, a lot of modern Westerns have also sought to put their own twist on the tropes of the genre to decidedly mixed results, whether it be action blockbuster The Lone Ranger, comic book adaptation Jonah Hex, the animated Rango, the blood-soaked Red Hill, the star-studded Magnificent Seven update or South Korean Spaghetti Western The Good, the Bad, the Weird. All of them brought something interesting to the table, but not all were successful.
One of the finest Westerns of the last decade, though, is Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence, which saw the filmmaker venture outside of the horror genre to tell the tale of a mysterious drifter who stumbles upon a ramshackle town overrun by a group of violent hoodlums. Ethan Hawke leads a solid ensemble that also features Taissa Farmiga and Karen Gillan, while John Travolta gives one of his best performances in years as the town’s infamous Marshal.
A low budget Blumhouse Western certainly sounded like an intriguing proposition, and In a Valley of Violence garnered plenty of enthusiasm from critics, as it holds a solid Rotten Tomatoes score of 77%. A box office haul of just over $60,000 was nothing to write home about, but the movie will be looking to find a whole new audience when it debuts on Netflix this week (October 16th), with the streaming service quickly becoming the go-to place for forgotten titles to receive a new lease of life.