A drifter seeks vengeance in an isolated mining town in In a Valley of Violence. Paul (Ethan Hawke) is an ex cavalry man, who is travelling with his dog Abby on the way to Mexico. Paul decides to take a shortcut through the town of Denton, where he has an violent encounter with psychotic deputy Gilly (James Ransone). Gilly turns out to be the son of the town’s Marshall (John Travolta), who tells Paul to be on his way. However, when Gilly and his men ambush Paul in the middle of the night and leave him for dead, they awaken a bloodlust that Paul thought he had put behind him.
Director Ti West (The Innkeepers, The Sacrament) crosses into the western genre with In a Valley of Violence. The film focuses on the drifter named Paul, who is trying to escape the sins of his past. However, he makes the mistake of entering the town of Denton, which happens to be run by sinners. With perhaps the exception of innkeeper Mary-Ann (Taissa Farmiga), everyone in Denton is rotten to the core and quickly becomes the target of a vengeful Paul.
In a Valley of Violence lulls you into a false sense of security in the film’s first act, which features a lot of humour and the cute actions of Paul’s very well-trained dog Abby. However, the film makes a sudden tonal shift, becoming quite gritty and horrific, which might turn off some viewers. However, it quickly turns out that In a Valley of Violence is pretty much like a western version of John Wick, with the second half of the film filled with much graphic violence and dark humour. The end result is a western that is quite entertaining to watch.