Alright, it’s time to do an obscure movie review, something I might make a feature of this here blog dealie, a weekly obscure movie, if the people so demand it. Because man, do I know a lot of em – people AND obscure movies! I came across this little gem thanks to my indie friend who also told me about Take This Waltz, which of course we all know I loved. This movie was made a couple years ago, but since no one (criminally) heard about it then, I just saw it yesterday. And wow, what a tweest! This was a different sort of role for my boy Adam Scott to play, although the sarcastic nature of most everything he says comes across quite well in this one – but it also comes across in the form of someone who is actually pretty disturbed and messed up. Which always makes for a fun movie, amiright?! And this one, while not QUITE as epic as I had expected within the first 20 minutes or so, is still something to check out, for his performance alone, but also for – and here’s a REAL tweest for ya’ll – but apparently, *GASP* Brittany Snow, who I usually can’t stand, can actually act! Who knew?! Mind blown.
So the premise of this one is that Adam Scott plays Caleb, the brother to Peter (played by the forgettable-but-has-a-cool-super-villain-name Alex Frost), who has an insanely hot girlfriend Emma, played by, like I said, the surprisingly good Brittany Snow. The opening scenes show us pretty much all there is to Caleb’s character and these scenes are excellent – he gives his baby brother a speech on how all women are whores and essentially good for nothing, and that the way he met Emma (essentially stealing her from one of his frat brothers) shows that she is exactly the same and he needs to be careful. However, amidst all of this confidence and bravado from him, before his brother walks back from the bathroom to sit with him, Caleb nearly bursts into tears for no particular reason. Something is amiss, not all is well in Caleb town. A lesser actor than Scott could have easily ruined a role like this. But, despite mostly playing in comedies until this, this movie shows us that dude has RANGE yo. He still plays that same sarcastic a**hole that you would probably secretly want to be your friend, just like he does in Parks and Recreation (although that character is a bit more nerdy) except there is a definite violent edge to this one – and that’s a very cool thing.
So the movie is basically about these two, with Caleb meeting Emma early on in the movie and having her sit in the middle next to him in his small truck while they roadtrip back home so that Peter – can I just call him supervillain from now on, to at least make him somewhat interesting? I can? Ok, supervillain it is. So supervillain is heading back to see his Dad for Thanksgiving, something that Caleb will have absolutely no part of. Even though he and his father Donald live in the same town, he hasn’t seen him in years, and pretty much spits out his name whenever he has to say it. Obviously something is also amiss there. Well, almost instantaneously Caleb is intrigued by Emma. In his defense, I’m not sure who wouldn’t be. Brittany Snow hasn’t really been an actress that’s “done” it for me, usually because she’s so bad at delivering her lines and general suckitude on screen, but for some reason she is intriguing in this movie – its definitely in the eyes, and the fact that they gave her that jet black hair for this one. Which is good, because she NEEDS to be intriguing for this movie. If she was just a run of the mill girl and didn’t have that whole, unattainable punk rock chic that some men lust after look about her, well then we wouldn’t get why Caleb is initially interested in her. But because of her look – and, here’s my surprise with Snow’s performance – the soft spoken manner that she has, the almost too polite but still charming way she has about her, we get it. At least, until he takes it entirely too far, which he does – movie is called The Vicious Kind after all.
Since this movie is really just about four characters, the last character in this movie is Donald, played by the excellent J.K. Simmons, or as I always call him, J. Jonah Jameson. This role is much the same role that J.K. has played in a bunch of other movies, the safe father figure type, similar to what he played in the incredibly (and I mean IN-CREDIBLY) over rated Juno. Or is he? What makes this movie work is some of the revelations toward the end – we know from the start that something is off about Caleb, and, since all of our parents f*** us up, its just to what extent they do said effing up, we sorta suspect that ol’ Donnie might have had something to do with it – but maybe not, he just seems like the fun dirty old man Dad that some of us would just love to have, with great lines like the one after Emma tells him that her mom turned to drinking and is essentially drunk all day, and he quips back with “she single?”. Stuff like that, he just seems like a sweet, lonely older man. I won’t ruin much for you but uh, some unexpected stuff happens towards the end that I think you will buy into, I certainly did, because of J.K.’s subdued performance.
So as expected, the intrigue soon turns into infatuation and then eventually to obsession, and not just because she’s hot – Emma is almost the spittin’ image of the girl that just left Caleb, someone he obviously loved, and she cheated on him and left him recently. It didn’t uh…it didn’t go over well with Caleb. Dude can’t sleep, smokes like a chimney, and there is this anger that is always on the surface and threatens to spill over on to everyone. He just looks like a guy who could snap at any moment – I think this picture portrays this well. That’s a testament to Scott’s acting chops – I didn’t expect him to be THIS good in this movie, but he really was. I guess that’s probably why it won some awards n such. But anyways, so the unraveling really comes to a head when he is caught taking pictures of her in the backyard of his father’s house – creeeeeeepy, right ladies? And is nearly shot by his own Dad – who we learn he hasn’t spoken to in about eight years. There is an incredibly intense and disturbing scene with Caleb and Emma at the grocery store, followed by him breaking down to tears not soon after. Dude is unstable, and obviously has A LOT of issues to deal with with this obsession with Emma.
And things start to come to a head – as usual I’m not going to spoil everything for you, watch it, it’s good, you’ll like it. I think I’ve established this movie is about an obsession, and I’ll admit that some of the ending stuff pissed me off – knock a star off my rating type of pissing me off even. Some cliched stuff happens that frankly should NOT happen in a movie that is supposed to be keeping you on your toes like this one. HOWEVER – the magic of this movie is that, when these cliched thangs was goin’ down, I started to realize that this movie was about a lot more than just the obsession Caleb had with his boring brother’s super hot girlfriend – it’s actually about family, and the title is relevant to quite a few things in this movie. The good news is that someone escapes from this family intact, he might actually not become “The Vicious Kind” like 2/3rds of his family has become. I’m not going to tell you who, but I think it might surprise you like it did me. And Emma might just be as Vicious as everyone else, we really aren’t sure. It’s good stuff, and it wouldn’t work if it weren’t for the actors. Supervillain isn’t given much to do here except to be clueless, but that’s fine, this movie isn’t about him, it ends up being about his entire family. And that’s why this movie worked for me- because it ended up being an entirely different bird than I first expected. That’s a good thing. Myself, this guy, I’ve seen A LOT of movies. Probably too many. So I can usually see what’s happening, which is why I get pissed off toward the end of a lot of movies, and I was prepared to write this one off and actually yelled “Ok! This movie has lost me completely!” during one scene as I watched this with my indie friend – but it brought me back by becoming about something bigger than the obsession. That’s an impressive feat for a little indie movie that could like this to do. It might be for that reason alone that you should check it out.