Jules (Maika Monroe) and Mickey (Bill Skarsgård) are inept but resourceful thieves who have just robbed a gas station. Ironically running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, they break into an empty well-appointed home. All is well until they stumble onto a little girl chained up in the basement. As they scramble to free her, the owners Gloria (Kyra Sedgwick) and George (Jeffrey Donovan) come home and take the young couple hostage. Jules and Mickey are clever, but can they escape the seriously demented Gloria and George?
The movie is written and directed by two millennials, Robert Olsen and Dan Berk. The film draws a pretty clear young-versus-older, rich-versus-poor dynamic. Gloria and George, Generation X (born from 1965 to 1980) are well-to-do and dress conservatively and neatly. Meanwhile, Jules and Mickey are super millennials (born from 1981 to 1996), with their tatted-up fingers and informal clothes and lack of stable jobs. I am a little confused by Mickey’s outfit, though; minus the denim jacket, he looks like an eight-year-old from 1952.
There’s a neat scene early in the film when the two couples are still feeling each other out: Jules and Mickey sit on the left side of the room while Gloria and George sit on the right, with their cardigans and their old-timey TV prominently in the background.
The characters are interesting. We find out in the first five minutes that Jules and Mickey are committing a robbery, but they’re convinced it’s the last one, and then they’re off to Florida. They’re really in love and so sweet. It’s easy to like and empathize with them right away. A lot of shots are from their point of view, my favorite being when they’re first exploring the house. They stand in the hallway and look left, and the camera pans left; they look right, and the camera pans right. In counterpoint, Gloria and George are pretty damn evil. But they’re not without their charms. They’re clearly off the rails in terms of sanity, but they come across as oddly rational and pleasant. Their syrupy southern drawls are soothing, and their devotion to each other is endearing.
The movie’s not strictly horror–it’s a mix of comedy and action, too–but it does play with the conventions of the genre, like the scene when Jules and Mickey consider going into the dark basement. Mickey pleads with Jules to go with him, stating, “I’m not going to leave you all by yourself in this…scary upstairs.” Once down there, Mickey immediately says, “Alright. Let’s split up.”
While Jules and Mickey are obviously the protagonists and Gloria and George are the clear villains, the filmmakers don’t seem to be claiming one age range is better than the other, as the characters are extreme stereotypes: Gloria and George are wealthy, self-obsessed, and out of touch with modern times, while Jules and Mickey are lazy, out of touch with reality (their grand scheme is literally to sell seashells by the seashore), and self-congratulatory (they’re forever telling each other how “fucking awesome” they are, even when they’re doing dumb shit).
Gloria and George’s captive Sweetiepie (Blake Baumgartner), representing Generation Z (born 1997 to now-ish), doesn’t say or do a whole lot (Jules and Mickey could have been caught by Gloria and George in any number of ways not involving a creepy chained-up kid), but she’s compelling in her own way.
Overall, I loved the shit out of it. It’s amusing, it’s moving, it’s suspenseful. And it’s majorly unpredictable. I totes recommend.