14th Feb2020

‘Villains’ Review (Rakuten TV)

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Blake Baumgartner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick, Noah Robbins | Written and Directed by Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

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I’ve used Rakuten TV a few times now, and the service is on-point. Slick, easy to use and crystal clear in sound and picture, it’s a very cool service for the rental of movies. Available to use across various places, from Smart TV’s, Xbox One, PC’s, Chromecast and various other places, it’s well worth a shot if you’re yet to use it.

This occasion I watched Villains, a comedy drama with elements of home-invasion thriller and horror, it is a delightfully dark film that twists and turns you on a 90 minute journey as we follow two small-time crooks in love, Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) who are, through some armed robbery jobs, on their way to Florida with a stash of cash and a plan to start over fresh, leaving their criminal lives behind to sell shells on the sea-shore. When their car runs out of gas as they’re escaping a robbery, they stumble upon a house with a car locked up in the garage, and decide to break in to steal the car and make their way out of dodge. Things don’t go according to plan (when do they ever?) when Jules and Mickey find a young girl (Blake Baumgartner) in the basement chained up, dirty and silent. In a frenzy to unchain the girl and get the hell outta there, they come face-to-face with the owners of the house, George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick). Now Jules and Mickey are locked inside this house with two psychopaths and need to figure a way out.

This was something of a surprise to me. I hadn’t heard much about the film and knew little of the story, so I was impressed with it. Entertaining for it’s entire hour and a half run-time, Villains isn’t the most shocking of films and the roads it goes down aren’t always huge revelations, but it’s a lot of fun, has some pretty weird, trippy and dark moments, and the performances across the board are great. Skarsgård (It: Chapters 1 & 2), who many viewers will know from his excellent portrayal of Pennywise in the new It films, is a likeable character with grey areas all over the place, bringing a sympathetic tone to his role regardless of the fact that he’s a burglar and a degenerate. Monroe is both sweet and fiery, able to shift from smiley and excited to terrified or concerned in the beat of a drum. It’s Donovan, as the patriarch of the house, and Sedgwick, as the matriarch, who truly shine here though. They’re both kindly in moments and furiously bizarre in others, constantly bringing a dangerous tone to the scenes they appear in, a feeling that they could flip their switches at any moment and go from 50’s-style southern hospitality to maniacs. I thought they were great, and the small cast do a remarkable job.

The film looks lovely and the minimal locations help increase this desperation of the characters hoping to escape the situation. Dan Berk and Rob Olsen (Body, The Stakelander), who wrote and directed this, are film-makers worth keeping an eye on. This was a thoroughly entertaining movie, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for. While it doesn’t break new ground, it still felt original and I have no complaints. Good stuff.

***½  3.5/5

Villains is available to watch now on Rakuten TV.

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