[Radha] The Greedy Shall Perish: Velvet Buzzsaw

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming”[1] (Col 3:5–6)


The art world. It’s stupid. Pompous. Dumb. Who the heck do these people think they are? So pretentious. Velvet Buzzsaw (written and directed by Dan Gilroy) satirizes the ridiculous world of art, then takes it to a gruesome level. Artists, critics, curators, assistants, and everyone else try to make a profit. Their greed leads to their end. A dead man’s paintings come alive. People die. Horror ensues.

The best thing about Velvet Buzzsaw was the dark satire of the art world. I had plenty of things to laugh at. You might find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of the movie. It’s rather predictable, but still entertaining. At the half-way point the movie turns from dark satire to the deaths of nearly everyone. It could have used more gore. If you go into the movie knowing that it’s going to be stupid, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. But let me talk a little bit about the major theme.

The greedy will die.

Greed consumes the plot of Velvet Buzzsaw. It pervades the story, in fact it is the story. Each of the characters desire something bigger than themselves. Josephina (Zawe Ashton) is an assistant to Rhodora Haze (Rene Russo), a gallery owner. A man dies in the hallway of Josephina’s apartment building while she’s running late to work. She discovers the dead man’s paintings in his apartment and she sees an opportunity to make it big for her own sake by exploiting Ventril Dease’s strangely inspiring paintings. Rhodora finds a way to seize control of the discovery by taking over Josephina’s project. Morf Vandewalt (Jake Gyllenhaal), an eclectic art critic, attempts to learn more about the artist in order to write a book about the posthumously famous Ventril Dease. In the meantime, other characters try to use the paintings for their own gain and end up getting killed off by the paintings themselves. The gruesome details of their deaths are worth watching.

“Beware lest wrath entice you into scoffing, and let not the greatness of the ransom turn you aside.”[2] (Job 36:18)

After Josephina steals Dease’s paintings from his apartment, the official in charge of his belongings tells her that Dease wanted all of his paintings to be destroyed. She disregards Dease’s wishes and keeps all of his pieces. She lies and claims that she found the paintings in the trash. While in his apartment, the eyes of Dease’s self-portrait follow Josephina as she moves around the studio. The curse begins.

Dease’s paintings, and Dease himself, act as a demonic spirit carrying out revenge. The greed of Josephina ends in her demise. She never repents, and ends up getting overtaken by the melting paint of a phantom gallery and forever trapped as graffiti on a corrugated aluminum wall. Her greed consumed her.

“For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord”[3] (Ps 10:3)

The love story between Morf and Josephina causes Morf to indulge his lust for her. Josephina goes along with it because she knows that Morf will provide favorable reviews for her work on the Dease collection, thereby increasing her wealth and fame. Morf in turn pursues an interest in Dease’s life for his own benefit by writing a book about him. He researches and comes to find out sinister details about Dease. He starts seeing the paintings move. He freaks out. He begins to repent by getting rid of the paintings that he horded. Instead he meets his end by the crutches (yes, I said crutches) of a killer robot.

Rhodora uses the paintings for fame and money too. She sells the Dease paintings to wealthy buyers all over the world. She limits the available stock of paintings in order to increase the value and rarity of the work. She manipulates the market for her own benefit. She uses her stature to gain power over all of the other characters in the film. She aims for sole ownership of the body of Dease’s work. Her greed engulfs the art world to conform to her desires. In the end she realizes that the spirit of Dease comes for her too. She empties her home of every piece of art she owns. She begins to feel at peace. But it’s not enough. She too is consumed by Dease through the tattoo on her back.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. [4] (Ro 1:29–32)


Find the movie currently streaming on Netflix. You’ll be in for some pleasant deathly surprises.



With references from popsugar:

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Colossians 3:5–6.

[2] Job 36:18.

[3] Psalms 10:3.

[4] Romans 1:29–32.

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