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Ethan Hawke is a gunslinger who loves his dog in The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive clip of In a Valley of Violence.
“We gotta keep our heads down OK? No trouble,” he tells his beloved pet, played by the viral Jumpy the Dog. “You gotta be on your best behavior.”
As with John Wick, the revenge film follows Hawke as a deadly man who’s sworn off violence until his dog is threatened. “We are currently pretty desensitized to violence against human beings onscreen — it seems to have little emotional impact for audiences at the moment, and ultimately just seems like a safe form of escapism,” writer-director Ti West tells THR. “However, the possible threat to an animal is still an incredibly intense experience. Perhaps it’s their helplessness and that connects to something deeper in people, or maybe it’s just less common and still feels fresh.
“But the main thing is that it revives that visceral feeling of being uncomfortable with the threat of violence. At the end of the day, this is a film about how people are affected by violence, and there needs to be an emotional connection for that to really work.”
The Western sees West, who mostly directs horror, switching genres. “Making horror films taught me how to play with audience expectations and use suspense to keep them engaged — that’s a valuable craft to bring to any genre, but in the case of a revenge western with a constant threat of violence, it lent itself perfectly.”
In a Valley of Violence hits theaters Oct. 21.
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