Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

Villains (2019)

Maika Monroe, Bill Skarsgård, Kyra Sedgwick, and Jeffrey Donovan star in the dark comedy 'Villains' 

A young couple (Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe) on the lam after robbing a gas station get more than they bargained for after their car runs out of gas and they find themselves hiding out in the home of eccentric husband and wife George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) who are harboring more than one secret in this very funny dark comedy.

The third film by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen (“Body,” “The Stakelander”) takes the home invasion theme for a ride as the tables keep turning between the twosomes. Jeffrey Donavan’s performance as the chivalrous homeowner steals the show.

Jules (Maika Monroe) and Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) are amateur thieves. The two don animal heads to rob a gas station convenience store which they almost flub after trying to open the register. Sure, they could have forced the clerk to do it but Bonnie and Clyde they are not. Strike one.

As the two make their getaway, the adrenaline pumping from both the rush of the robbery and a nice mixture of drugs, the young thieves lose their high when the car runs out of gas and they find themselves stranded on a rural highway. Yeah, they just robbed a gas station and didn’t fuel up. Strike two.

Mickey goes into panic mode but Jules, the level-headed one and brains of the organization (and that’s stretching it), spots a mailbox in the distance and so the two decide to raid the home in search of gas or new wheels. Instead, they find a little girl chained up in the basement and while they search for something to set her free, homeowners George and Gloria show up. Strike three.

The performances by Skarsgård, Monroe, Donovan, and Sedgwick, are first-rate as the foursome prove to be an even match in the villains vs villains scenario. When Jules demands to know why there is a little girl tied up in the basement, George responds with a calm southern drawl, “That’s just our sweetie pie. She’s been misbehaving and acting out at school. It’s just our way of disciplining her.” Shocked by the response, Mickey demands the keys to their car and announces they’re taking the girl with them. Gloria, who’s swaddling a newborn, declares, “You can’t just come into our house unannounced and run amok.”

The furnishings in George and Gloria’s home coupled with their clothing suggests they just stepped out of a sitcom in the 50s. The two harbor many secrets, starting with Sweetie Pie in the basement, who bites Mickey in the hand while he tries to rescue her causing George to overtake the bumbling thief and next thing you know Mickey is tied up to a bed so Gloria can seduce him and Jules has joined Sweetie Pie in the basement as a captive.

“Villains” is tons of fun as the cat and mouse game keeps switching sides while Donovan gets to recite wonderful lines like “Well, one thing for sure you’re a bit too spry for my liking.” The actor from the “Sicario” films shows off his comedic side and let’s hope this leads to more comedies. Sedgwick plays the docile housewife to a tea but there is a nasty streak in her that should have been further explored.

Skarsgård proves there is more to him than just playing the iconic clown Pennywise from “It” while Maika Monroe gives Donovan a run for the money in the Best Performance category as the defiant Jules with a heart of gold. After a breakthrough performance in the 2015 horror film “It Follows” the actress delivered another good performance earlier this year in “Greta” as Chloë Grace Moretz’s savior roommate Erica.

Do yourself a favor. Seek out “Villains” at the local cinema. The dark comedy is wildly entertaining.

(3 ½ stars)

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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