“Villains” is a little morbid comedy film about a young criminal couple who happens to come across another criminal couple who turns out to be a lot worse than them. Once it establishes the setting for its main characters, the movie delivers a series of tense moments which are darkly amusing at times, and we come to pay more attention to what may happen next even when we often observe its main characters from the distance.
At the beginning, the movie introduces us to Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe), and we watch this young couple’s rather clumsy attempt to rob a gas station store. They manage to snatch some money and then quickly drive away from their crime scene, but, alas, they belatedly come to realize that they forgot filling the fuel tank of their car in advance, and they accordingly find themselves hopelessly stuck at some remote spot not so far from their crime scene.
Fortunately, they happen to spot a mailbox on the road, and it leads them to a nice and quiet house, into which they break without any hesitation. As far as they can see, all they have to do is finding anything to help their runaway as soon as possible, and they briskly search through the house although the owners of the house may return at any moment.
However, they subsequently discover something quite disturbing. In the basement, they encounter a little girl who has clearly been chained for some time, and it does not take much time for them to realize that they inadvertently get themselves involved with a serous circumstance which may be way over their heads. Although Mickey is reluctant, Jules thinks they should do something for that poor little girl, and he agrees to that because, well, he is willing to do anything for the woman he truly loves.
And then there come the owners of the house: George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick). When these two people find their place invaded by Mickey and Jules, they seem to try to deal with Mickey and Jules in a sensible way which may benefit both sides, but we already know what they are capable of. A brief shot featuring a certain disturbing video clip implies how twisted and diabolical George and Gloira really are, and, not so surprisingly, the tables are soon turned as Mickey and Jules belatedly discover the true nature of George and Gloria, who gleefully thrust Mickey and Jules into a series of twisted and deranged situations, At one point, Gloria does a bizarre sexual act in front of Mickey while he is being helplessly tied and handcuffed to a bed, and that is certainly one of the most darkly humorous moments in the film.
Because there is still some possibility for their escape and survival, Mickey and Jules try as much as they can for outwitting their dangerous opponents, and the movie accordingly provides a series of suspenseful moments which will alternatively rivet and amuse you. I could not help but amused as watching a cringe-inducing scene where Mickey and Jules attempt to use a little object from Jules’ certain inner body part for their improvised escape plan, and I was also tickled a lot by a cheerfully loony scene where they are later forced to join a dinner wholeheartedly prepared by their opponents.
In the meantime, the screenplay by directors/writers Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, who previously directed “Body” (2015) and “The Stakelander” (2016), brings some human depth to main characters while steadily serving us an ample amount of black humor. While they are still goofy and clumsy at times, Mickey and Jules are reminded again of their deep emotional bond as desperately struggling for their survival, and there is even a poignant moment when Mickey makes a certain grave choice for what must be done for Jules. It goes without saying that George and Gloria are an evil and insane couple who will not hesitate to kill their opponents at all, but they sincerely love each other in their own crazy way, and it can be said that they are a sort of warped mirror image to Mickey and Jules.
Around its third act, the movie comes to lose its narrative moment as stepping out of its limited background a bit, but they are still supported well by its four main cast members. Bill Skarsgård, who has been more prominent thanks to his memorably villainous supporting turn in “It” (2017) and “It Chapter Two” (2019), demonstrates the unexpected comic side of his talent here in this film, and he and Maika Monroe, who drew our attention for the first time via her unforgettable performance in “It Follows” (2014), are effortless in their farcical interactions throughout the film. In the opposite position, Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick surely have lots of fun with playing the nasty aspects of their insane characters while steadily maintaining their characters’ phlegmatically courteous attitude, and Sedgewick is especially wonderful whenever she is required to go back and forth between her character’s two contrasting sides.
In conclusion, “Villains” did its job mostly well within its small playground, and I really enjoyed the solid efforts from its talented cast and crew members. Although it may be a little too broad and vicious for some of you, Berk and Olsen ably handle their story and characters with enough skill and style nonetheless, and I guess it will be interesting to see what this competent filmmaker duo will give us during next several years.