A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Villains is a dark comedy-thriller about a criminal couple (Bill Skarsgård and Maika Monroe, the stars of It and It Follows) who break into a house and find something unexpected. It's fast-paced, smart, and extremely likable, but it's also mature enough to be appropriate only for older teens and adults. Expect blood and gore, guns and shooting, gross imagery, fighting, a child chained up/imprisoned, and death. The closing credits in particular are extremely gory. The main couple kisses several times, and one attempts oral sex on the other while he's driving (they're interrupted). An older character attempts to seduce a younger one by performing a mild striptease and grabbing his crotch. There's also somewhat graphic sex-related talk. Language is strong and frequent, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and many more. Characters snort cocaine on more than one occasion, a bag of stolen drugs is used to knock characters out, and a character drinks liquor.
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What's the story?
In VILLAINS, lovers Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe) are bumbling criminals. They hold up a convenience store and then, while escaping, run out of gas. They spy a nearby house and head there to try to find another car -- or at least some gas. But while searching for car keys, they begin to realize that things in the house seem a little off, especially when they discover a non-speaking young girl chained to a pole in the dark basement. Jules insists that they rescue her, but while they're trying to break the bonds, the house's owners -- George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) -- come home. At first it seems as if Mickey and Jules might escape, but it turns out that the older couple is far more dangerous than they thought.
Is it any good?
Yes, there have been cleverer movies, but this creepy comedy more than gets by on its breezy pace and weirdly lovable characters, as well as smart, measured performances that keep them in check. Written and directed by the team of Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Villains is refreshingly simple in its design, with only a handful of speaking parts and a house that inspires chills with its oddly old-fashioned design. (Everything in it seems out-of-date, from an old picture-tube TV to a box of stale cereal.) And most of the story takes place during the daylight, which adds another odd layer.
Skarsgård and Monroe -- horror icons from It, It Chapter Two, and It Follows -- make an appealing couple, and their interactions and shorthand are frequently touching, even when they're in a tight spot. (To calm Mickey, Jules plays "car wash" by dangling her long hair over his face, creating a little tunnel of blonde.) Donovan and Sedgwick are equally effective, with their own strange chemistry. Best of all, the four characters are generally smart and think on their feet; no one seems supernaturally ahead of the curve, and the playing field is even. The characters may be Villains, but they'll more than likely take your blues away.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Villains' violence. Does the fact that the film is a comedy affect the impact of the violence?
Is the movie scary? What's the appeal of scary movies?
Are the two main characters likable even though they're criminals? How? Is crime glamorized in Villains?
Who are the actual "villains" of the title?
- In theaters: September 20, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2019
- Cast: Maika Monroe, Bill Skarsgård, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick
- Directors: Dan Berk, Robert Olsen
- Studio: Gunpowder & Sky
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, some violence, drug use and sexual content
- Last updated: April 13, 2020
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