Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are a young couple looking for an escape, so much so that they rob a convenience store in order to run away together. Their infatuation is reminiscent of True Romance or the diner couple in Pulp Fiction; in other words, they are sex-crazed, drug-fuelled kids desperately in love.
When their car runs out of gas during a haphazard escape, the pair are at a loss in the middle of the woods. Skarsgård and Monroe expertly share the lovers’ bizarre, yet adorable, intimate rituals when Jules dangles her long blonde tresses over Mickey’s face to calm him down – they call it “the car wash”. After walking along the deserted road they happen upon a perfect-looking empty house with a car in its drive. The pair break in and begin a frantic search for the keys, but when the homeowners return, things take a turn for the weird.
Directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen are smart to keep this dark comedy caper so contained. Having a primary cast of just five in one location, the absurdity of the situation feels completely removed from reality, which bodes well to keep tensions high and laughs frequent. Annie Simeone’s production design equally elevates this somewhat familiar tale; the house feels frozen in time, with Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan as its malevolent owners revelling in the 1960s getup. Donovan’s George oozes charm, with an all-American Southern drawl that’s equal parts inviting and terrifying. And Sedgwick is a knockout as Gloria, a desperately maternal figure playing out her fantasies with whip-smart delivery.
Every member of the cast is having the time of their lives with complete conviction, and this is sometimes the saving grace of an otherwise tonally inconsistent script. At times, the film somehow lacks suspense. The film indulges in its genre and exactly what it sets out to be, but that, in turn, means it can be predictable. There was room for something truly great if they just took it one step further, and if they didn’t lose the crazy in the third act. Despite this, Villains is an absurdly fun ride with memorable performances and some knockout comic timing – just don’t think about it too much after.
by Millicent Thomas
Millicent Thomas is a proud Mancunian studying Film & Publishing in Bath. She has written freelance for Little White Lies, Much Ado About Cinema, Reel Honey, and more. Her favourite films include Logan, Columbus, and Spy-Kids. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Letterboxd at @millicentonfilm