Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Kyra Sedgwick, Jeffrey Donovan
Director: Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Writer: Dan Berk and Robert Olsen
Villains is almost four characters in search of a story. It feels like the basic concept was nailed down, where two crooks are on the run, and they break into a house that belongs to two psychopaths. It’s a solid concept. I wish they had done more with it.
Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are the thieves on the run. After hitting a convenience store, they decide to hide out in a normal-looking suburban home. When they find a small girl chained up in the basement, their consciences kick in, and they try to rescue her. Unfortunately for them, George (Jeffrey Donavan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) come home and stop them.
What comes next is a lot of back and forth between the two pairs, which is good. The best parts of the film are those scenes. Donovan is being very broad, but it works for the good-old-boy kinda dad he’s portraying. Sedgwick is having a ton of fun as the delusional Gloria, and I wish she had gotten more to do, but she does get a showcase scene with a captive Skarsgård.
Speaking of, Skarsgård is kind of the star of the show here. I feel like he doesn’t fully let go and get weird with it, even though the role and the dialogue definitely called for someone like Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona. Having said that, Mickey has the most to do, and Skarsgård does a great job with it. There’s a lot of give and take in this movie, and Mickey is clearly an idiot, but he knows how to read people. There’s a fantastic scene early on all about the differences between Mickey and George reading people.
Maika Monroe is a modern-day scream queen, but her role here is fairly standard. She obviously knocks it out of the park, but anyone can hide in a closet or worry about a locked up child at an inopportune time. Monroe is a badass, and she only gets to show that a couple of times. Luckily, she also has fantastic chemistry with Skarsgård. The entire opening and a scene about her tongue piercing later on stick in the mind because they’re so good together.
I wish the movie was as good as they were. There’s a lot of tension and mystery once they break in and are found out. Who the hell are these people? Why do they have a child chained up in their basement? The answers are … fine. Not the most interesting way the movie could have gone. Nothing escalates once Mickey and Jules are found out. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen before in something like The Perfect Host.
At least the captivity yields some interesting scenes. The tongue ring stuff has some great interplay between Skarsgård and Monroe, Sedgwick’s showcase happens opposite a captive Skarsgård, and Skarsgård talking his way to freedom only for it to be thwarted in a very unfortunate way is legitimately funny.
If you like any of the leads, then Villains lets them have a lot of fun. Everyone leans into their characters, and they’re all fun to watch. Unfortunately, there’s not much beyond that.