Venturing into the Cinepocalypse Film Fest at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago, I and a whole room of people indulged ourselves within the opening scene of Villains - and let me tell you, I personally was already hooked. It was such a journey from start until the end, leaving me with every emotion an effective horror-comedy graces you with. I have always respected a film that is directed in one main location, with a small cast and a punch in the gut story-line with twists and turns galore that invite you in even more.
The opening scene was hilarious and done right. The aesthetics of their emotion, scene shots and even their personalities portrayed in the film hooked me. I enjoyed how the character development was pure and they made sure to create a beautiful vibe between the two that was unique and enjoyable.
Within Villains, Mikey (Bill Skarsgard) and Jules (Maika Monroe) have a plan of their own to hit the road together towards the beautiful sunset city to live their dreams - well, after they rob a gas station while donning animal masks...
Forgetting gas at the very station they robbed, they're forced into an unfortunate situation as their car runs out of gas miles down the road. In the middle of nowhere, no gas and only each other, they then spot a mailbox. Assuming no one's home, they break into the remote and isolated residence, but are unsuccessful in finding the keys to the car they spotted in the garage. After some time, they choose to go on a search for a hose to siphon the gas instead. Let's just say they never find the hose, but it set them on the path down into the basement where they find something else instead.
Things unfold in a way they never imagined as they find a hidden secret in the basement of the residence, a little girl chained to a pole (Blake Baumgartner). Mickey is reluctant at first to help, Jules fiercely concludes where their story is going to end, to save the girl. They creep back upstairs to find something to break the chain, but before they could save the girl and get the hell out of there, the homeowners George (Jefferey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) return to sinister accusations from the intruders who've invaded their quaint, polished home. They calmly defend their secret, staring wide-eyed at the infiltrator who have them held at gun point. In an attempt to at bargaining, George and Gloria offer to simply let Mikey and Jules go, to be on their way, to "live their dreams" without calling the cops.
Concerning the morally wrong secret hidden in this couples basement, Mickey and Jules decline their request. This turn of events gradually flips things upside as things get a little strange, alarming, unpredictable and fulfills the film with twists that will keep you captivated until the end.
Dan Berk and Robert Olsen's Villains contains beautiful cinematography by Matt Mitchell, smooth and concise editing by Sofi Marshall and a score from Andrew Hewitt that really draws you into the intense, comedic and thriller aspects of the film.
The cast did an impeccable job with portraying their roles in the film, as I definitely felt a connection with the main characters. Not only did Skarsgard and Monroe do a phenomenal job with their characters portraying themselves as the "Wildly in-love druggy amateur criminals" (give me a second after that one!), I also highly enjoyed how well Donovan and Sedgwick present the intense older couple, who are old-fashioned and classy, but also weird and demented. They did an astounding job being a "straight-jacket couple", capturing the the aesthetics of being weird, mysterious and highly unique. In relation, the couple's characters within Villains were similar in various ways, they were unorthodox, profoundly in-love and ready to be somewhere else, to gather that commonality was interesting to me.
Moreover, there were only a few moments that caused me to "raise my brow", but to avoid spoiling anything more, I'll just say that this film did leave me with some unanswered questions. Overall, Villains is exceptional, although, I do feel the conclusion was a bit rushed. This film definitely is for someone who thrives on feeling a connection with the characters, enjoys dark humor, twists and encountering various emotions throughout the film.
An exquisitely bizarre film developed with an outstanding degree of quirky, dark and uncanny attributes. The likelihood that I'll be re-watching Villains upon its home video release is... well...likely! With popcorn and a group of friends, this zany black comedy would be the highlight of any movie night!
This review was originally published as a part of Cinepocalypse 2019.