Rating: (2 stars)
“Villains” opens with a robbery at a gas station convenience store, quickly followed by a scene in which the perpetrators — wait for it — run out of gas.
Such is the level of idiocy of the protagonists — let’s not call them heroes — of this darkly comic (and more than slightly silly) thriller about a pair of bumbling petty criminals who, while en route to Florida to start a new life, find themselves the victims of a pair of psychopaths. The tables get turned on Mickey and Jules (Bill Skarsgard and Maika Monroe) after they break into a suburban home, presumably to siphon gas or steal a car so they can resume their journey, only to find a young girl (Blake Baumgartner) shackled to a pipe in the basement.
While trying to free her — after all, they’re not monsters — they are surprised by the homeowners, George and Gloria (Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick), both of whom turn out to be — well, completely nuts. Still, George and Gloria, who look and act like characters in a 1950s sitcom, with him wearing ascots and her sweater sets, are sharper than Mickey and Jules. If you’re a fan of broad black comedy — the kind in which someone blasts a hole in someone else’s head, and then the next camera shot is framed by that gaping aperture — “Villains” may be your cup of strong tea. The dialogue by writer-directors Dan Berk and Robert Olsen is less than witty, and peppered with a heavy sprinkling of dully numbing f-bombs.
Baumgartner’s character (called Sweetiepie) doesn’t have much to do, and she doesn’t appear all that troubled by the abuse she appears to have suffered. I suppose that’s appropriate for a comedy. But the four adult actors seem to be having great fun with the material. Donovan and Sedgwick are especially enjoyable, if you like scenery chewing and stagy Southern accents. Skarsgard and Monroe, not so much.
“Villains” isn’t criminally bad, but, like Mickey and Jules and George and Gloria, it’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
R. At area theaters. Contains crude language throughout, some violence, drug use and sexuality. 88 minutes.