2017 Film Essays

Instant Cult Classic: Gary Michael Schultz’s ‘Vincent N Roxxy’

Vincent N Roxxy, directed by Gary Michael Schultz, isn’t your typical crime thriller; it’s an outlier. The film leans heavily on familiar genre themes but ultimately transforms into a disturbing mashup, establishing its own identity while becoming one of the year’s most surprising releases.

Like Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, Vincent N Roxxy creates a specific mood with its opening car sequence. No dialogue. Heavy score. Immediate conflict. A brooding man (Emile Hirsch as Vincent) saves a woman in distress (Zoë Kravitz as Roxxy), and they’re forever connected. Vincent invites Roxxy to the family farm; a safe place, at least for the moment. In the first act, there’s little exposition and even less character backstory, but Schultz connects the dots on a practical level.

Enter Vincent’s brother, JC (Emory Cohen), a backwoods bro that could either be a local gangster or just a guy molded by harsh times, maybe both. He and Vincent reconnect and soon form J&V Auto, while Roxxy lands a bartending gig with JC’s tattooed girlfriend, Kate (Zoey Deutch). When Kate’s ex-boyfriend gets too fresh, JC steps in, along with his enigmatic brother for backup. Everybody, including Kate and Roxxy, can handle their day-to-day business. The question is this: which character is hiding the most anger?

Schultz’s narrative has major flaws. The main characters find domestic balance and live entirely in the present, but they rarely speak of the past. Why? Because of the big payoff. It’s coming, and Schultz makes it obvious. These country types are more protective of each other than suspicious; outsiders that reward loyalty with loyalty and respect. Does Roxxy have some unresolved issues? Yes. Everybody does. Schultz doesn’t gloss around that — evil lurks everywhere. But in this setting, it’s difficult to identify the true monster and the number of heads. When the inevitable conflict arises, a higher order emerges. In Vincent N Roxxy, the darkest characters show no mercy, and the rural violence is genuinely terrifying, mostly because it seems entirely plausible.

Both Hirsch and Cohen deliver effective, polished performances. They don’t excessively brood, nor do they beat their chests. Vincent and JC stay relatively cool, yet they’re highly skeptical individuals. They trust each other, though, and that bond gives them strength. Both actors channel tucked away pain, emitting a quiet confidence, tinged with regret. JC talks a slick game, and it contrasts Vincent’s guarded demeanor. Kravitz and Deutch also dig deep, as the former balances paranoia with utter despair, and the latter represents a young woman trying to get by in a nasty environment. Deutch previously starred in films like Vampire Academy, Everybody Wants Some!! and Dirty Grandpa, which makes this performance so unique to her overall filmography. She’s believable as the gritty yet endearing girlfriend, and her darkest moment leaves a mark. Overall, the cast sells the country bravado, along with the cryptic personality traits that make so many blue-collar misfits difficult to interpret.

Visually, Schultz and cinematographer Alex Disenhof blend neo-noir with Scorsesian psychology and Tarantino-esque gore. When the power dynamics shift, Vincent N Roxxy transforms from a typical indie thriller into something much more affecting. The biggest moments drop like a hammer, and the regional isolation makes them even more impactful. It’s a slow burn, fueled by the director’s willingness to stray from genre cliches. This isn’t a great film, and it may not even be a good one. But most viewers will remember Vincent N Roxxy. And that’s why it feels like an instant cult classic.

Vincent N Roxxy succeeds with its authentic feel, understated performances and directorial vision. Either you love the squeaky rollercoaster or you’ve got no time for the squeaky rollercoaster. Welcome to the carnival.

Q.V. Hough (@qvhough) is a freelance writer and the Founding Editor of Vague Visages. In 2004, he graduated from Concordia College (Moorhead, MN) with bachelor degrees in Communication-Mass Media and History. From 2006 to 2012, Quinn lived in Hollywood, California and now resides in Fargo, North Dakota.