Brawl in Cell Block 99 is one HELL of a wild ride into the most brutal version of a modern prison. Vince Vaughn is cast perfectly!

Obviously, I knew Brawl in Cell Block 99 would include violence and gore. And it most certainly did. After all, it was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler.

He also made Bone Tomahawk, which is a movie that can boast of some crazy violence as well.

What I love about both Brawl in Cell Block 99 and Bone Tomahawk is the fact that violence isn’t actually condoned. The main protagonist is often someone who tries to avoid violence.

However, they’re also extremely good at being violent, so when you push them… well, they’ll send you flying across the room.

Vince Vaughn steals every scene

Brawl in Cell Block 99 features a perfect performance from Vince Vaughn. He portrays Bradley (not Brad!), who just wants to give his family a good life. I’m not usually the biggest fan of Vince Vaughn simply because, personally, I don’t always like his style of comedy.

However, when it comes to this kind of character? He’s perfect! The guy is huge and while not totally ripped, you definitely believe he can kick ass the way he does.

His wifey, Lauren, is played by the magnificent Jennifer Carpenter. I’ll gladly admit that I’ve adored Jennifer Carpenter since watching her in the title role in The Exorcism of Emily Rose from 2005. And of course, she’ll forever be Debra “Fucking” Morgan, the sister of title character Dexter.

Also, we get Don Johnson, Udo Kier and Geno Segers (Chayton Littlestone from the TV show Banshee). Basically, this movie has a killer cast who all seem to be enjoying themselves.

I would love to see more women in S. Craig Zahler’s movies, but if we only get the one, Jennifer Carpenter is an excellent choice. At first, her character seemed a bit boring, but don’t worry. She’s more than meets the eye!


The violence is extreme

Yes, the violence in Brawl in Cell Block 99 is very extreme, but that’s his trademark. Also, when it goes totally crazy, it’s actually made to look unrealistic.

The old horror gore tricks are used, where you can tell that it’s a plastic skull being crushed.

That’s what makes this kind of movie work for me. And unlike torture porn, the goal is not to make us believe the actors are enduring this. Instead, it’s to entertain and go over the top in an almost campy way.

Still, don’t get me wrong, plenty of the violence does look very real.

Bradley (Vince Vaughn) keeps getting deeper and deeper into trouble and cannot allow himself to stop or give up. So he will stop at literally nothing.

More from S. Craig Zahler

As stated earlier, Brawl in Cell Block 99 is very clearly a S. Craig Zahler movie. It has all his trademarks in style and vision, which is pretty awesome considering this is only his second feature film.

However, he has another feature film coming out in 2018. Or actually, he’s part of two since one is as a writer and another as both writer and director.  Both are currently in post-production, so we have plenty to look forward to.

He’s written the movie Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich which stars Michael Paré, Udo Kier, and Barbara Crampton among many others.

And then we can all look forward to Dragged Across Concrete, which even sounds very much like a S. Craig Zahler movie. Dragged Across Concrete stars Mel Gibson along with (once again) Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Carpenter. Other repeat faces include Don Johnson and Udo Kier, so clearly people like working with Zahler.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is out on VOD now, so be sure to check it out!


Director: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Udo Kier, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas


A former boxer named Bradley loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to expire. At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work for an old buddy as a drug courier. This vocation improves his situation until the terrible day that he finds himself in a gunfight between a group of police officers and his own ruthless allies. When the smoke clears, Bradley is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard