Vindicta is the year’s most hilarious movie. Sadly, it’s not a comedy. I’m not even sure what this trainwreck is trying to be. At times, it feels as though it’s going for a Bringing Out the Dead vibe, but then it tosses in a Friday the 13th-like masked killer and indulges in Saw-level gore. Whatever director Sean McNamara (The King’s Daughter) was going for, he didn’t achieve it.
Elena Kampouris (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3) plays Lou, an EMT whose boss (Sean Astin) sends her out on her first assignment when “Seattle” falls victim to rioting. (I’m putting quotation marks around that word because the film visibly wasn’t made anywhere near Seattle, even if the Space Needle is seemingly CGI-ed into a shot.) Looters are the least of her worries. A serial killer is on the loose, and of course he has a gimmick. Clad in a black robe and a statue of David mask, the psycho slays people with ancient torture devices stolen from a local museum, then uses their blood to scrawl Latin words on walls. Lou appears to be one of his intended targets. The reason why might lie with her overprotective father Patrick (Jeremy Piven).
The story establishes very early on that the killer is on a revenge mission. His modus operandi makes no sense. Why would he go to all the trouble of breaking into a museum, putting on a costume, learning Latin, and devising complex traps for his victims? Just going and murdering them would be a lot simpler and a more effective use of time.
Cheap production values are another limitation. Much of the movie takes place on a single block, which is obviously a set. McNamara photographs it from one angle to hide the fact that there’s no city behind it. A few of the props are ineffective, too. During a scene inside a burned-out building, a guy struggles to move a heavy object that easily bends when he puts it against a wall.
That’s funny, but the final 20 minutes set a record for unintentional comedy. There were no less than four moments that had me howling with laughter, including a supposedly dramatic climax that finds Lou giving a Latin history lesson. A character’s absurdly violent death in one of those torture devises is similarly uproarious. Movies like this always require the heroine to make a quip before dispatching of the villain, and Lou’s is hysterically dumb, inserting the F word into a common Latin phrase.
Vindicta isn’t exiting, scary, or intense in any way. The only saving grace is Kampouris, who works overtime to make the material seem less idiotic than it is. Lacking logic and filled with contrivances, the film is easily one of 2023’s worst.
out of four
Vindicta is rated R for violence and gore, language, and brief drug material. The running time is 1 hour and 23 minutes.