In a Valley of Violence

Critics Consensus

In a Valley of Violence offers a smartly conceived homage to classic Westerns that transcends pastiche with absurdist humor and a terrific cast.



Total Count: 67


Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,034
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Movie Info

A mysterious drifter named Paul (Ethan Hawke) and his dog Abbie (Jumpy) make their way towards Mexico through the barren desert of the old west. In an attempt to shorten their journey they cut through the center of a large valley - landing themselves in the forgotten town of Denton - a place now dubbed by locals as a "valley of violence." The once popular mining town is nearly abandoned, and controlled by a brash group of misfits and nitwits - chief among them, the seemingly untouchable, Gilly (James Ransone) who is the troublemaking son of the town's unforgiving Marshal (John Travolta). As tensions rise between Paul and Gilly, Denton's remaining residents bear witness to an inevitable act of violence that starts a disastrous chain reaction, infecting the petty lives of all involved and quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) and Ellen (Karen Gillan), two bickering sisters who run the town's only hotel, try to find the good in both men, while desperately searching for their own salvation. Only the world-weary Marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul's past...there is no stopping the escalation.

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Critic Reviews for In a Valley of Violence

All Critics (67) | Top Critics (16)

  • West, making his first foray into westerns, doesn't control the tone. Its somber, bone-dry gruffness crumbles to dust, only to be replaced by adolescent jokiness.

    Oct 27, 2016 | Full Review…
  • Announces itself as an unabashed B-movie from its pre-credits scene ... and never worries itself about being anything deeper than that.

    Oct 24, 2016 | Rating: B | Full Review…
  • In a Valley of Violence does not take itself too seriously (a great asset), but it also takes itself just seriously enough that it's not empty snarky parody.

    Oct 21, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Spiked with dryly funny exchanges and lovingly shot by Eric Robbins on 35-millimeter film, "In a Valley of Violence" nevertheless feels exasperatingly two-dimensional.

    Oct 20, 2016 | Full Review…
  • A by-the-numbers spaghetti Western that's kind of slow and uneventful-and the world has no shortage of those.

    Oct 20, 2016 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…
  • This smartly cast, vengeance-fueled oater proves mighty entertaining in its own right.

    Oct 20, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for In a Valley of Violence

  • Dec 11, 2017
    I found this movie decidedly average. However, it was not average in a sense of mediocre throughout, but more by virtue of a strange averaging of some highs and lows. I am not sure if that is better or worse than consistent mediocrity. I suspect it might be a matter of your own priorities. This is a standard western plot-line with rather standard characters. Ethan Hawke and John Travolta give the best performances. They both take up the mantle of their stock characters well. The supporting cast is a real let down. I usually do not expect much from the female cast in a by the numbers western, but it was disappointing, even with reduced expectations. The aimless band of body count goons were barely passable in that limited role. The wandering priest was a bit of a highlight. On a high note, there are some surprisingly good action sequences littered throughout the film. The banter between Hawke and Travolta is also rather entertaining. I found myself compelled to be intentionally serial in my review. Overall, the problem I found with this movie is the flow. There really is no unified feel or consistency in the movie. It is a sort of patchwork of some strong individual sequences, but the overall structure never fits. The movie swings a bit between classic spaghetti western, odd comedy and overplayed drama. The moments of drama are a little too serious maybe, or maybe the comedy is a little too light. In the end, it does not work for me. It is too jarring and uncomfortable. It is not a bad movie, on the balance. There are some strong scenes, when you remember them in isolation, but it never really "fits".
    Shane S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 26, 2016
    Hawke is brilliant in this great western film. The film is brilliantly directed and you can see the craft in each shot or scene. The western genre has slowly crept back into the limelight with not much success which is a shame. This indie film deserved more attention and an audience it may not reach. Travolta reminds everyone that he can hold his own and deserves another return to the big screen. One of my top ten picks for 2016.
    Brendan N Super Reviewer

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