SXSW 2019: Villains

Maika Monroe and Bill Skarsgård in Villains. Photo Credit: Matt Mitchell

Villains is a comedic action thriller that somehow manages to find a way to blur the lines in the craziest kind of way possible.

The only thing worse than a pair of ill-prepared robbers is a pair of ill-prepared robbers that break into the home of the worst couple in history of the world.  This is exactly what happens to Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe).  If you’re going to rob a gas station, could you at least make sure to refill your gas tank before doing the deed?  This only speaks to their immaturity as robbers.  The two of them are trying to get to Florida to start a new life.  Unfortunately, their lack of preparation comes back to bite them in the ass in the worst way.

With their car out of gas, the two start walking before spotting a mailbox that leads to a house.  While the house does have a much-needed car, the two of them don’t have the keys.  While searching around, Mickey manages to discard a camcorder while being completely oblivious to the events that transpire in the recording.  If he had seen what was on it, he wouldn’t have left the house quick enough.

Just as soon as Mickey and Jules are about to make a run for it, homeowners George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) come home.  Mickey and Jules’ day just went from bad to holy shit.  For these two robbers, their day is now the day from hell and it’s not going to get any better.  It’s going to get worse.  This doesn’t even take into account that George and Gloria have a young girl, Sweetie Pie (Blake Baumgartner), chained up in their basement.  Who is she and how did she get there?

The film was described by a SXSW programmer going into the screening as being “fucked up.”  They weren’t lying.  I got eerie flashbacks to the recently released Greta.  Funny enough, Monroe co-starred in that bonkers thriller.  Only this time, the situation is just as worse if not more so.  Wildly bonkers may possibly even be the understatement of the year.

Dan Berk and Robert Olsen take this film in a very intriguing direction.  I’ve seen quite a few bonkers movies over the years and Villains most definitely fits the mold.  Both Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan completely disappear into their characters.  Sedgwick even more so because you don’t even realize it’s her.  The cast as a whole is awesome here–it’s one of two films for Maika Monroe at SXSW with the other being Kate Trefry’s thrilling How To Be Alone.

With superb performances from its stars, Villains is the black comedy thriller that is sure to stand out among the crowd.

CAST:  Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Blake Baumgartner, with Kyra Sedgwick and Jeffrey Donovan

Villains holds its world premiere during the 2019 SXSW Film Festival in the Narrative Spotlight program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.