‘Villains’ is Scary Funny (FILM REVIEW)

[rating=8.00]

It’s difficult to tell whether Villains is a horror masquerading as a comedy or a comedy so black that it verges into the realm of horror. I suspect reactions will be varied as audiences begin leaving the theaters but, surprisingly, the film works regardless of which way you might choose to view. And it works well, at that.

That there’s a link between the genre is no surprise and isn’t precisely new information but the line itself is still a difficult one to walk. Villains does it so well, however, that the line almost ceases to exist. Co-writers and co-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen have crafted an ingenious little comedy of terrors that feels immediately destined to become a midnight classic.

Packed with stellar performances from its small ensemble, Villains is one of the most fun movies I’ve seen this year. Berk and Olsen lead this relatively simple story down a treacherous tightrope of suspense and amusement that will have you laughing and jumping in turns, often in the same scene.

The film follows inept criminal lovers Mickey and Jules (Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe) as they attempt to flea from a convenience store robbery. Soon, however, their ineptitude catches up with them leaving them stranded the middle of nowhere. Desperate to continue their romantic crime spree to Florida, the couple break into a secluded house, owned by George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick) in hopes of stealing a car. Soon, however, the couple finds that their would-be victims are harboring a dark secret that they will kill to keep.

Filled with taut suspense and razor-sharp interplay, the dynamic between the two couples exists on an ever-shifting terrain that keeps the audience guessing throughout. While Skarsgard and Donovan are both fantastic as the bumbling baddy with a heart of gold and the coolly menacing elder, respectively, it is Monroe and Sedgwick who, ultimately, hold the film on their shoulders.

Sedgwick, especially, delivers a terrifying performance that finds the actress shifting through emotions at a whip fast pace and leaving the viewer consistently on edge. In one moment she is the epitome of the sweet southern housewife, smiling and chastising Mickey for his language, and in the very next she is the zenith of unhinged, portraying madness in ways that can, at times, be truly skin crawling.

Though it cannot be said that Villains ever breaks new cinematic ground, it still delivers a delightfully perverse tale that will keep you guessing and laughing throughout. Existing boldly with a foot both in comedy and horror, this is a must see experience for fans of twisted tales of loose morals and black humor.

Villains is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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