‘Villains’ puts a comedic twist on thriller tropes

Villains (2019)

Villains (2019)

Directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen

Adorably in-love criminals Mickey (Bill Skarsgard) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are one job away from escaping to Florida and giving up their life of crime. Or, they thought that was the case until the joint they decide to pilfer—the home of a genteel couple, George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick)—turns out to be a bit more of a handful than they bargained for.

Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe in Villains (2019)

If you saw Fede Alvarez’s 2016 thriller “Don’t Breathe,” you might expect, very generally, the type of mouse-becomes-the-cat flip that can happen when a home invasion goes awry. But “Villains” handles this crazy thriller with a sharp comedic twist. Skarsgard is wildly funny when he wants to be, but Monroe has come into her own after her roles in “The Guest” and “It Follows” were enough for me to typecast her as “dumb blonde in horror movies.” After movies like “Greta” and “Villains,” I’m ready to admit I made too quick of a judgment on the young actress. I like her now! That’s not to say that the old-hands Donovan and Sedgwick let the youngsters steal the show. Donovan employs a thick drawl not unlike Daniel Craig’s scene-stealing Benoit Blanc in “Knives Out.” But everyone involved recognizes the wackiness of their film. They take it in stride.

“Villains” is unpredictable, and it’s proud of the secrets it keeps, but it also stays hidden under its veil for maybe too long. It wastes opportunities to reveal big secrets in appropriately big ways. I felt underwhelmed too often. But then, “Villains” would offer up a bit of comedy gold and remind me that the movie has more going for it than its thrills. Still, there’s something too familiar about the way “Villains” plays out in the end. It follows, for the most part, an easy-to-guess path from start to finish. Yes, some of the bits in the middle will throw you off-course, but in the end, you know how this will go.


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