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Villains: Come for the cast, stay for the People Under the Stairs vibes

Villains opens with a robbery being committed by very green criminals Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) and Jules (Maika Monroe). Their escape plans are foiled, however, by the fact that Mickey forgot to fill up the gas tank — an easily avoidable error, since they just robbed a gas station.

After Jules calms Mickey down, they see a house set back in the woods and make a plan to break in and steal a car from there. Everything seems to be going according to plan until … they find a little girl chained up in the basement.

Fueled by drugs and freaked out, they ultimately decide to free the girl when the parents, George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) arrive home carrying a bundled up baby. What follows is a cycle of endless attempts to leave the house and many shocking revelations about the “happily married” homeowners.

I have to believe writing and directing team Dan Berk and Robert Olsen are big fans of The People Under the Stairs, because there’s a lot of the same vibe happening here; especially with Kyra, who is channeling some BIG WENDY ROBIE ENERGY in this role. And while there’s no between-the-walls pathways or hungry cannibals, the absurd circumstances that keep foiling Mickey and Jules’ exit mirror Fool’s attempts to leave in Stairs.

In any case, even though the ending is a bit too saccharin for my taste, Villains was a lot of fun. This surprising little indie gem feels like it was made in another time, and if it didn’t star Skarsgård & Monroe, I’d swear it was straight outta 1995.

Opening in theaters nationwide September 20; check the Googles for Seattle showtimes!

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