Two crazy kids rob a gas station and are swiftly kicked in the butt by karma in the independent film, Villains. Their getaway car runs out of fuel shortly after the robbery of a gas station, setting up a trip to a house of horrors in the nifty black comedy/thriller from writer/directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (The Stakelander).
Mickey and Jules – perfect names for inept robbers – seem like a decent enough couple. They obviously adore each other and, as events unfold, even the worst of what life tosses at them can’t rip them apart. Although, boy, does it try.
Abandoning their disabled vehicle on the road, Mickey and Jules pay a visit to a nearby home. They break in, determined to steal the car in the garage. When they can’t locate its keys, they have the bright idea of siphoning the gas. That fateful decision leads them to the discovery of a young girl named Sweetiepie chained up in the basement.
A short discussion ensues, and Mickey’s talked into trying to free the child. They’re just as successful at doing that as they were in making a clean getaway from their most recent robbery.
It turns out the couple who own the house are real looney toons. Mickey and Jules should have known they weren’t in Kansas anymore when they entered the house and seemingly stepped back in time to the 1970s. The home’s décor reflects the worst of that decade, and the twisted married couple who own the creepy house give off a Stepford Wives/Twilight Zone vibe.
Bill Skarsgard (Pennywise the Clown in the It franchise) and Maika Monroe (It Follows, not part of the It franchise) star as the world’s most unlucky criminals. Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick play the freaky married couple who have a perverse interpretation of what “family” means.
All four leads are absolutely terrific. Skarsgard’s Mickey is goofy yet charming, which is important because as the film heads toward its unexpected finale, the audience needs to really be rooting for this character to overcome his own worst instincts. Monroe’s Jules is the brains of the bunch, and also the film’s heart and soul. It’s Jules’ understanding and empathy that keeps the couple alive.
Donovan and Sedgwick have real chemistry (they’re the onscreen married couple I never knew I needed to see) and as the action spirals out of control, Sedgwick in particular lets her freak flag fly.
Villains is one of those sterling little gems you’re going to brag to your friends you discovered first. There aren’t any real good guys or bad guys in Villains. Instead, writer/directors Berk and Olsen play around in that delicious grey area where the best stories dwell.
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence, drug use and sexual content
Running Time: 89 minutes
Release Date: September 20, 2019 (Limited)
Studio: Gunpowder & Sky