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With: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick, Blake Baumgartner, Danny Johnson
Written by: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
Directed by: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some violence, drug use and sexual content
Running Time: 88
Date: 09/19/2019

Villains (2019)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Stealing the Show

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

While there have been cleverer movies, this creepy comedy more than gets by on its breezy pace and its weirdly lovable characters, as well as the smart, measured performances that keep them in check.

In Villains, Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are in love, and are also a pair of bumbling criminals. They hold up a convenience store and then, while escaping, run out of gas. They spy a nearby house and head there to try to find another car, or at least some gas. But while searching for car keys, they begin to realize that things in the house seem a little off, especially when they discover an unspeaking young girl chained to a pole in the dark basement.

Jules insists that they rescue her, but while trying to break the bonds, the house's owners — George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) — come home. At first it seems as if Mickey and Jules may escape, but it turns out that the older couple is far more dangerous than they thought.

Written and directed by the team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Villains is refreshingly simple in its design, with only a handful of speaking parts and a house that inspires chills with its oddly old-fashioned design. (Everything in it seems out-of-date, from an old picture-tube TV to a box of stale cereal.) And most of the story takes place during the daylight, which adds another odd layer.

Skarsgård and Monroe, both horror icons from It, It Chapter Two, and It Follows, make an adorable couple, and their interactions and shorthand are frequently touching, even when they're in a tight spot. (To calm Mickey, Jules plays "car wash" by dangling her long hair over his face, creating a little tunnel of blonde.)

Donovan and Sedgwick are equally effective, with their own strange chemistry. Best of all, the four characters are generally smart, and generally think on their feet; no one seems supernaturally ahead of the curve, and the playing field is even. The characters may be Villains, but they'll more likely take your blues away.

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