Saturday, August 24, 2019

Scary Movies XII: Villains

There is no “Make My Day” law in the nation that would cover the actions of respectable-looking George and Gloria when dim-witted Mickey and Jules break into their upscale exurban home. They could have just shot the moronic home invaders, but instead they try to scratch their psychotic itches in Dan Berk & Robert Olsen’s dark comedy, Villains, which screened during Scary Movies XII.

Only Mickey and Jules would knock-over a gas station, but forget to fill up the tank first. As a result, they find themselves broken-down near George and Gloria’s secluded home. Their original plan was to steal the car in the garage, but they get side-tracked when they discover a little girl chained up in the basement. At this point, their hosts walk in. Even though Mickey has the gun, George is the one in control of the situation.

Things get awkward quickly for Mickey and Jules. At least the little girl starts to warm to Jules. Frankly, she is probably smarter than the young crooks, who are definitely out of their league playing cat-and-mouse games with their nutty captors.

Villains basically shares the fundamental premise of Bad Samaritan, Monster Party, and to an extent, Don’t Breathe, but those films do their best to maintain a tone that is consistently tense and serious as a heart attack. Berk & Olsen’s game plan to extract laughs and suspense from the circumstances surrounding a child held captive in a basement is definitely gutsy, but the results are hit-or-miss in the extreme.

Nobody can blame the principal cast members, who are obviously working overtime to pull off the comedy and the horror scenery chewing. Maika Monroe is quite endearingly sweet and naïve as Jules, while Bill Skarsgård energetically plays against his It-type as big, dopey Mickey. Kyra Sedgwick is really weird and almost unrecognizable as the dangerously neurotic Gloria, but Jeffrey Donovan might even be more impressive, going all in and somehow pulling off all of George’s over-written dialogue with sinister verve.

The problem is we’ve been here before. The American movie business’s war on suburban normalcy is getting predictable. At this point, it would be more surprising if characters like George and Gloria were stable and decent. Not recommended, Villains opens September 20th nationwide, following its New York premiere at Scary Movies XII.