EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Directors & Writers Dan Berk & Robert Olsen Talk ‘Villains’

Villains isn’t just the other Bill Skarsgard film out right now with Maika Monroe from the indie hit It Follows. It also isn’t an edgy thriller that takes a turn for the morbid like the stylings of Saw, no matter what the trailer leads you to believe. If anything, Villains is a love story tied up in crazy circumstances brought to us by the brilliant minds behind Villains.

Luckily for you, dear reader, we got a chance to speak with directors and writers Robert Olsen and Dan Berk about what it took to create Villains, love being at the heart of this movie, and the controversial ending people are most definitely going to be talking//ranting/raving/screaming about.

Spoilers beyond this point. You’ve been warned!

So, Villains. This awkward little thriller that could and did impress & wow with it’s intelligence, whit, and humor is a must-see. And at the heart of it all is the duo Mickey and Jules; lovers on the run from the cops and with a dream to live a simple life by the seashore in Florida. Immediately, it’s easy to tell that thought was put into everything when it came to these two.

According to Berk, “That’s where the creative conception that started for us, you know, we knew Mickey and Jules from a very early stage and kind of built the entire film around them because they were such compelling characters for us. We always wanted to have this sort of Bonnie and Clyde couple be the heart of this movie.”

Mickey and Jules are just that, the unexpected Bonnie and Clyde of 2019 that make you cringe, laugh, and invest in them from the first second you see them on screen under those ridiculous masks. Because according to Berk, “Mickey and Jules may be dumb and maybe fumbling, but they’re street smart. And their persistence can get you quite far in a situation like this one. So yeah, I think that was really fun. And we use humor, obviously, there’s a way to sort of illustrate that to the audience.”

That’s not the only thing that Berk and Olsen want the audience to take away from Mickey and Jules. At the core of it all, and why I love this movie to the moon and back, is the fact that this is a love story wrapped in a quirky, funny, and oddball Bonnie and Clyde adventure for the times.

Mickey and Jules may be dumb and maybe fumbling, but they’re street smart.”

Olsen, the other creative mind behind Villains, echoed Berk’s comments and elaborated with, “It’s just setting up that they love each other and kind of as an audience member, you can accept your characters committing criminal acts, you know, if you set up that they love one another, that they’re doing it for a good reason, you know, and in this case, they’re doing it to start a new life in Florida. So as an audience member, you sympathize with their goal. And so you kind of forgive their transgressions a little bit.”

And it’s true.

Watching Villains you invest, you fall in love, and you have Mickey and Jules best intentions at heart because of how loveable, street smart, and funny they are. They feel real, honestly. Like someone you could meet at a coffee shop or a gas station hold up. And it’s one of the main reasons why we invest in them from the start.

And then there’s the end of things. Spoiler warning here! 

Good? Ok.

Mickey dies. 

It happens, we’re heart broken, but we kind of understand where this came from and why his death was inevitable. He had changed throughout the movie. His priorities had grown and shifted and when faced with the decision to stay or flee in the face of danger, he chose to go at things head on for himself, for Jules, and for the little girl they found in the basement of George and Gloria’s home.

And if you were floored by that ending, you’re not alone. Both Olsen and Berk were floored as well. 

“I remember the first time that we watched that scene (the end) in the edit room, we both we’re just floored by it.”

Olsen had to say, “Really, I remember the first time that we watched that scene (the end) in the edit room, we both we’re just floored by it. We felt so bad, you know, we’ve been living there with this character for so long. And when they, you know, when we lose them it kind of hit us. And we were like, “No, what are we doing?”

Berk followed this by saying, “And the ending is probably the most controversial part of the movie. A lot of people that watched it, especially in like the sort of genre and horror community, I think a lot of people feel like it gets a bit too sappy or something, you know, that we’re sort of focusing on the emotional element there more than some people maybe want there to be.”

Honestly, we’ve got to disagree with those that think this movie is too sappy because the love story is clear from the start. Mickey and Jules love each other and the reason they fall into everything that happens in Villains is because of that love and the future they want to have with each other. 

“At the end of the day, it’s all just kind of stuff to surround the big love story,” Berk explained, blowing our minds at the same time. Because “stuff” to surround the big love story is Villains bread and butter. Finding that girl in the basement, meeting those weirdo home owners/psychopaths, and fighting for their survival…well, that was all stuff to wrap around the love story that is Mickey and Jules. 

Most importantly, for Berk and Olsen, is that this love story also isn’t something of convenience. They’re not in it because they know they can survive together. Surviving and the entirety of this movie is just what happens because of the love they share.

“It was really important to us that their love, felt like this, this real thing.”

Olsen managed to explain this complicated concept by saying, “It was really important to us that their love, felt like this, this real thing. And this, this kind of fleeting mortal love, you know, because we do want people to have that feeling of, the sort of like Titanic or something. Again, you’re kind of sitting there and it makes you look at the person that you’re watching the movie with, maybe that’s the person you love, just…hold on to that person a little bit tighter or, you know, enjoy that day that you spend with them a little bit more and not take it for granted.”

So, at the end of the movie, when the screen goes black, remember and take away from this little thriller/love story that Mickey and Jules represent the kind of positive love that lifts you up and doesn’t bring you down like it did with George and Gloria. Mickey and Jules stood by each other’s side, complimented the others abilities and weaknesses, and proved that love could be found in the strangest places, from a suburban looking home to a seashell shop in Florida. Love is there. 

Villains is now in theaters.

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