Cast: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Baumgartner
Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Writers: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
One of the things about the horror genre is that you have a ton of different directions you can go with it. You can go full-on slasher, true crime, suspense, and yes, even black comedy. Villains ends up combining several of the horror genres, but the black comedy aspects are where it shines.
Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are young lovers trying to leave their past behind to start a new life. Florida is the destination for the two, but lack of money is the problem. Donning latex animal masks, the two rob a gas station, getting both money and food. However, despite robbing a gas station, they did not put gas in their car. After a brief panic, the two are happy to see a house hidden among the trees. The couple decides a quick entry into the home will allow them to get a new car and quickly be on their way. Unfortunately, the two couldn’t be more wrong.
The first third of Villains is what will get you hooked and make you want to stick around for the end. Skarsgård and Monroe as the young couple who cannot keep their hands off each other is brilliant. Skarsgård creates a Mickey, who despite being a criminal, is endearing and likable. His delivery of lines combined with his over the top expressions adds just enough campiness. Monroe’s perfectly cast as a hippy-like accomplice who hasn’t a care in the world. One of the best scenes to drive it home is when they are first looking to steal the second car. As Skarsgård looks frantically through the house, Monroe sits down on the couch to enjoy some cereal. It’s an act that doesn’t seem odd to the character and fits her flighty personality perfectly.
As important as Skarsgård and Monroe are, they could have been derailed if it was not for the foil on the other side of the coin. George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Clair (Kyra Sedgwick) play the perfect demented homeowners. Donavon has this calmness about him that is unsettling. Even more so as we get to know more about him and his wife. As he uses a calm southern drawl, you as a viewer are just waiting for him to lose his composure. Sedgwick plays a perfect Stepford wife that has become a bit unhinged over time. Much like Donavon, Sedgwick is able to pull it off in an unsettling way.
Most of Villains takes place in one setting. Ninety-percent of the movie happens within the home that the would-be criminals find. While it works in adding to the creepiness of the story, it hurts other parts. Extended time is spent keeping the criminals in bondage so that they can not escape. It, unfortunately, makes some of the scenes feel a little stale after a while. Thankfully the dialogue and the acting keep the setting from becoming too much of a burden.
The other main concern came with the end of Villains. It felt like there was a major shift from being more of a black comedy to a crime thriller with a message. If it had been like that the entire movie, it may have played better. However, the sudden shift is jarring and takes you out of the mindset that had been established for the previous 75 minutes.
Coming in at just under 90 minutes, Villains can easily be enjoyed within a sitting. It revels in the creepiness without overdoing it with blood and gore. Part of what works is that you could see both of these couples existing in the real world. And that, to me, is scarier than vampires, werewolves, and mummies.