CREDIT: Anna Kooris

Starring: Maika Monroe, Bill Skarsgård, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Baumgartner

Directors: Dan Berk and Robert Olsen

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Rating: R for Gunfire, Bloody Whacks on the Head, and Resourceful Cocaine Use

Release Date: September 20, 2019 (Limited)

Don’t you just hate it when you’re a criminal on the run and you break into a house and then it turns out that the homeowners are much more devious than you are? This seems to happen relatively often in the movies, but perhaps less so in real life. I certainly would not want to participate myself, both because breaking and entering is illegal and because it can be quite creepy to walk around an unfamiliar house. But I am perfectly happy to watch others do it, and the latest example why is Villains.

This bloody little black comedy thriller stars Maika Monroe and Bill Skarsgård as Mickey and Jules, a couple whose love is strong and tender enough to overcome the stress of covering up their crimes. It’s a neat trick that they pull off with their performances, wherein they get us to root for them by consistently reminding us of their humanity without ever asking us to excuse their convenience store robbery in the opening scene. It certainly doesn’t hurt how much they stand in contrast to Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick’s George and Gloria, a couple whose efforts to craft the perfect genteel dollhouse-style home has led them to kidnap a little girl (Blake Baumgartner, who played a young Nicole Fosse in Fosse/Verdon) and chain her up in their basement. Mickey and Jules’ efforts to escape this predicament while negotiating an uneasy truce with George and Gloria makes for an economical little battle of wits (as well as an occasionally physical battle) that will have you constantly puzzling out (along with the character)s what the best course of action is.

Villains is Recommended If You Like: Don’t Breathe, Ready or Not, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Grade: 3 out of 5 Negotiations

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