Maika Monroe and Bill Skarsgard team up in the dark comedy 'Villains.'
Release Date: September 20, 2019
MPAA Rating: R
After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.
Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Screenwriters: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Producers: Garrick Dion, Allan Mandelbaum, Tim White, Trevor White
Cast: Maika Monroe (Jules), Bill Skarsgard (Mickey), Kyra Sedgwick (Gloria), Jeffrey Donovan (George), Blake Baumgartner (Sweetiepie)
Editor: Sofi Marshall
Cinematographer: Matt Mitchell
Production Designer: Annie Simeone
Casting Directors: Henry Russell Bergstein, Allison Estrin
Music Score: Andrew Hewitt
Bill Skarsgård has become a household name playing Pennywise the Dancing Clown in the recent remake of It (and its sequel, It Chapter Two). Maika Monroe burst onto the horror scene in the terrific It Follows and kept going strong with the surreal Bokeh and the wonderfully campy Greta. Now, the pair of “It” actors (pun semi-intended) have teamed up in the dark comedy Villains.
Villains stars Skarsgård and Monroe as Mickey and Jules, a pair of two-bit criminals who are on the lam from the law. When their car runs out of gas on a secluded rural road, they break into a house to hide out and possibly steal another car to continue their run. While rummaging through the house looking for loot, the couple stumbles across a young girl chained up in the basement (Blake Baumgartner from Madeline’s Madeline). As they try to decide what to do, the owners of the house, a yuppie couple named George and Gloria (Sicario’s Jeffrey Donovan and The Edge of Seventeen’s Kyra Sedgwick), come home. And so begins the out-of-the-frying-pan game of cat-and-mouse between the bad guys and the worse guys.
Written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (the duo behind Body), Villains is an economical little thriller, with basically just the same five characters and mostly set in just the one house. It’s also very aptly named, as there are no heroes in the movie, just different shades of villainy. That doesn’t mean the audience doesn’t root for anyone; Mickey and Jules are the lesser of the two evils, so they become the de facto protagonists, but there’s not much likeable about them. But there’s even less likeable about George and Gloria. Unless being a pair of sadistic psychopaths is considered likeable.
There’s very little wasted space in Villains, and that’s a huge part of its effectiveness. It jumps right into Mickey and Jules’ crime spree and keeps the action going at a good pace until everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end. The cast carries the film, not just in its individual performances, but as an ensemble. There are a few surprises along the way, but Villains is mostly just a pulpy little exploitation flick full of sneaky characters and impossible situations.
There’s nothing new in Villains, but that’s not the point. Villains is a fun movie, front to back, and with that goal in mind, it’s a success.
It’s a disservice to Villains to call it horror, but that’s what it’s being marketed as. It’s much more of a dark comedy or a crime drama. There’s very little in the way of actual horror in the film. Most of the truly suspenseful scenes are all based around situations that moviegoers have seen many times before, such as the obligatory cop showing up in the middle of the mayhem and having his ceremonial “look around.” None of it is scary, but that’s not what Villains is about. If you go into it expecting to be scared, you’ll be disappointed. If you go into it expecting to be entertained, you’ll leave smiling and satisfied.