Monday, September 23, 2019


I look at the times Villains is playing during most of the week - 6:15pm and 9pm shows - and wonder, idly, if the deal Gunpowder & Sky (or whichever imprint's name is on this) cut with Regal could have perhaps used a little more verbiage. I grant that they may be better times for some than me - if your office is in the city proper, rather than out in the suburbs, you can probably get to something playing Fenway at that hour without a lot of trouble, and maybe even eat afterwards because it's short). It caught me trying to grab a better time on the weekend, but I suspect the theater doesn't mind.

I'm not entirely sure how exclusive this deal with Regal is - I've seen things on social media suggesting Villains is "exclusively at Regal through 9/26", but I'm not sure whether that should be parsed as only playing at Regal and then headed off to VOD on 9/27 or as able to open at other theaters after a week. I suspect it's effectively the same - I don't really see this expanding - but if this deal is for more than one movie, and the next one is good enough to potentially break out, I could see it being a big deal.

I wonder, to a certain extent, if we're going to see more of these deals signed by the big chains now that they've got unlimited memberships. In Boston, I think you've got to either live in the Fenway area or like that particular theater to get Regal Unlimited either instead of AMC A-List or in addition to it, and I suspect that's not an entirely unusual arrangement - AMC buying GCC meant offloading some theaters to Regal lest they have a monopoly, so there are a lot of towns with both. So, I suspect they are going to have to compete on exclusives eventually, either to make their own subscription service look like the better deal or to get people to make one-off trips.

Which is good in terms of getting independent genre films like this on any screens at all, I guess. Still, I really hope that this doesn't result in Cinemark or some other chain which has no outposts near me picking up an exclusive on something that looks nifty.


* * (out of four)
Seen 22 September 2019 in Regal Fenway #9 (first-run, DCP)

One hears the plot of Villains and almost involuntarily makes a comment along the lines of how those kids have gotten themselves into some kind of pickle, and that's just about as far as the movie itself gets. It's got a good hook in its pair of endearingly dumb fugitives who stumble on genuinely dangerous people, but the right pieces aren't there for it to be more.

The dumb fugitives are Mickey (Bill SkarsgÄrd) and Jules (Maika Monroe), two kids in their twenties who are looking to start new lives in Florida on money they've robbed from gas stations, but in an unfortunate bit of irony, they didn't fill up their car's tank before robbing the last one, and run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. They figure that maybe they can steal a new car from a nearby house, but it proves trickier than grabbing some cash from a convenience store, even before they find something unexpected in the basement and George (Jeffrey Donovan) and Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) come back home.

There's a temptation to find parallels between Mickey & Jules and George & Gloria, but filmmakers Dan Berk & Robert Olsen don't exactly build it that way despite a few feints in that direction early. Not that a blessedly short comedic thriller exactly needs to have a lot of metaphor or resonance going on underneath the surface, but it should probably either reveal something when a viewer looks closer or have a more impressively tight game of cast and mouse. This movie often struggles at the basic "have people act murderous or not from scene to scene" level, and often seems like the filmmakers never cleared the things that made sense in the first draft out before the final. Jules's poking around the kitchen hints at an abandoned home, for example, but it doesn't make sense considering everything after that. Eventually things chaotically fall apart in a way that's not even exciting - and which also needs a lot more reaction time afterward - and the filmmakers don't seem to have what it takes to finally do something with the denial and delusion it's hinted at in the end.

Full review on EFilmCritic

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