One presumes that what Gary Michael Schultz was aiming for in his sophomore feature was a modern noir in a Tarantino mold, but with “Vincent N Roxxy” he instead manages just an oddly bland would-be romance followed by a long spasm of ultra-violence. You’re likely to leave the movie feeling that this is one journey you shouldn’t have signed onto.
As the picture begins, Vincent (Emile Hirsch) is sitting in his car, watching a house. When he sees an angry black man, who will later be identified as Suga (Scott Mescudi), accosting a young woman named Roxxy (Zoe Kravitz) with a gun, he intervenes and eventually drives her to safety. Speeding out of the city he invites her to hide at his remote family farm, where he is going to reunite with his brother JC (Emory Cohen). She initially declines the offer, but eventually will show up there seeking refuge from Suga, a bad-ass who’s out to retrieve a bundle of cash Roxxy’s murdered brother had somehow gotten hold of.
Meanwhile Vincent and JC, along with the latter’s girlfriend Kate (Zoey Deutch), get into some trouble with her previous boyfriend Daryl (Beau Knapp) and his thuggish pals at the dingy roadside place where Kate works as a bartender, and helps Roxxy land a similar job. The brothers are at odds over how they failed one another during their late mother’s final illness—Vincent is angry that he had to serve as her caretaker while JC was gone, while JC accuses Vincent leaving him to handle the burial alone after she died—but reconcile somewhat, despite JC’s hotheadedness and risky plans for making money. Unsurprisingly, Vincent and Roxxy get intimate as well, sharing very close moments that are shot by cinematographer Alex Disenhot like extremely soft-core footage.
Of course, danger enters in the form of Suga and his crew, and though Vincent comes on the scene as the prospective savior of Roxxy, JC and Kate, what results instead is an explosive orgy of mayhem involving bondage, knifings, execution-style shootings, hanging, and rape. That will bring revelations, the most important concerning the whereabouts of Suga’s money, and a culminating act of bloody revenge that will raise the body count exponentially. Where matters are headed from there is a matter of pure conjecture.
Schultz, apparently believing that a long, brooding introduction followed by a paroxysm of gore will make for a compelling whole, stages the first hour of “Vincent N Roxxy” like a dirge; even the opening rescue scene is flat, and his attempts to liven things up with Tarantino-esque bits of business such as JC’s monologue to some card-playing buddies fall flat because, quite honestly, the writing is drab. Of course it would help if there were any chemistry between Hirsch and Kravitz, but there isn’t. He seems to be sleepwalking through his role, except for that outburst with JC about their mother and another pitting him against Daryl, while she is almost equally lethargic until the final act. Cohen, who was so charismatic in “Brooklyn,” merely rants here, and Deutch is largely wasted in a thankless part. (Mescudi, on the other hand, is grimly menacing.)
The picture has a poverty-row look, with Disenhot’s widescreen lensing unimpressive and Bruce Cannon’s editing desultory. The pulsating synthesizer score by Ahmir Thompson and Ray Angry is a particular irritant.
In the final analysis Vincent and Roxxy are two people you’ll wish you hadn’t met.