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Cinepocaypse ‘19 Review: Dark Secrets and Dark Humour in “VILLAINS”

Sunday, June 16, 2019 | Review

By DEIRDRE CRIMMINS

Starring Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan, and Kyra Sedgwick
Written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Gunpowder & Sky//MoviePass Films

The entertainment value that goes with incompetent criminal activity can be quite high. VILLAINS gives us not one, but a pair of bumbling thieves, along with a touch of bloody mayhem, and the result is a largely charming but slightly forced dark comedy.

The movie kicks off with the a couple in rubber masks holding up a gas station. Mickey and Jules (heavily horror pedigreed Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe) are no Bonnie and Clyde, and they quickly show us just how unorganized and scattered they are in their first moments on screen. That absurdity only deepens when their getaway car runs out of gas. If only they had stolen some fuel as well, but that would require a cognitive function neither seem to possess.

Stranded on the road while on the run, Jules spots a mailbox, which leads to a house, which leads to a break in. Desperately looking for anything that could get them back on the road, they end up in the basement only to realize they have not broken in to a any regular house. There is a grim, dark secret down in the basement, and running away can no longer be the plan.

Soon enough, the homeowners return: George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick) look like they are straight out of a low rent MAD MEN spinoff, her perfectly set hair and his affinity for ascots only enhance a surreal encounter in the kitchen, and things only go south from there. Breaking into the house of these people has been a very bad move indeed.

Though VILLAINS could play as a stark, horrific drama, the tone of of the movie light and perky. Jules and Mickey are the perfect balance of kind and inept, and it is easy to take some pity on them despite their thieving ways. Also, there is a definite warmth that Jules exudes towards nearly everyone she meets, which makes her easy to root for. All four of the core actors in the film seem to have fully committed to their roles, even as the plot veers into greater satire and absurdity.

VILLAINS is by no means a horror film, but it does play in the genre sandbox: it has kidnapping, death, blood, and piercings gone awry, but always with a smile and a wink.

Deirdre is a Chicago-based film critic and life-long horror fan. In addition to writing for RUE MORGUE, she also contributes to BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH., FILM THRILLS, and HIGH DEF DIGEST. She's got two black cats and wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero.