By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Even though I’ve yet to actually attend, I always make some time to read up on the raves coming out of South by Southwest’s film festival arm, a funkier, less corporate-feeling affair that always uncovers some under the radar gems. Well, here’s to getting Villains above the radar.
Maika Monroe’s involvement should be enough already for horror fans in the know.
Monroe and Pennywise-er-Bill Skarsgard star as two young, on-the-run lovers who knock off a convenience store and go on the lam. Looking for a place to hide, then find one… that’s got plenty to hide itself.
The story of Villains starts out an awful lot like The End of the Fucking World- small-time criminal lovers break into a house and find out they’re way, way over their head- but it goes to a whole heck of a lot more (and more unexpected) places. Even if you think you’ve seen this story before, you haven’t really, so just sit back and enjoy the delicious struggle between the four principal leads.
Their acting is great all around, but Bill Skarsgard in particular shows some new dimensions for those who likely still only know him as Pennywise or as a Stephen King villain in general. He’s rakish, but endearingly goofy at the same time, staking out his claim to get more leading man roles in the future if he wants them (he’s a pretty goddamn great villain, too, after all).
And probably already a sex symbol in some dark corners of the internet.
Jeffrey Donovan’s ‘ol Southern charm vamping steals the film for me, though- yes, this is Jeffrey “Burn Notice” Donovan we’re talking about. You’ll be floored. Kyra Sedgwick gets to play a Mommie Dearest-level psycho as well and chews scenery like wrigley gum, and Maika Monroe’s the closest thing to an audience surrogate but is also a game comedienne in her own right.
Directors Robert Olsen and Dan Berk (of the well-reviewed but underseen Don’t Kill It) bring to the table lots of stylistic flourishes and a daring mix of tones that bring to mind Korean cinema, or, in a strange and welcome way, Jean-Pierre Jeunet. I’m going to let you discover the rest for yourself, but if that doesn’t intrigue the hell out of you, we’re not friends.
The comic elements are a bit rocky at first in their delivery and the way they meld with the other tones in play in the film, but don’t worry, they start to blend in all their squeamish glory soon enough- bear with it.
Villains is a stylistically ambitious, nasty, engagingly acted little genre film that’s quite the showcase for all of the talent involved.
Villains (2019) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever our two lovers’ situation worsens
Take a Drink: for every escape attempt (by anyone)
Take a Drink: for each gunshot
Take a Drink: every time disturbing baby imagery appears
Do a Shot: for the tongue ring