Netflix Pick: The Vicious Kind
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Just in case you were worried that I would forget about my promise to keep this up as a weekly feature, I’m here to PROVE YOU WRONG. There’s an absolute wealth of great content available on Netflix instant streaming, a great deal of which most people have probably never heard of. There’s nothing I love doing quite as much as showing people fantastic films they didn’t even know existed, and that goes double for myself. Therefore, this feature will essentially be a chronicling of my journey through the wilds of Netflix’s library, watching a new film every week and letting you know whether or not it’s worth your time. Luckily, “The Vicious Kind” is absolutely worth your time. Find out why after the break!
“The Vicious Kind,” written and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, follows what happens when the bitter, heartbroken older brother (Adam Scott) of a young, naive college student (Alex Frost) becomes concerned about the trustworthiness of his younger sibling’s new girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow), as he brings her home for Thanksgiving. Complications arise quite quickly due to the fact that the older brother, Caleb, is not on speaking terms with their father (JK Simmons). Before too long, Caleb begins to realize that he has creepy, lusty feelings for Emma, and what results is a cavalcade of awful, awful behavior by everyone.
The main reason I decided to check this film out is the fact that it stars Adam Scott. As a massive fan of Scott’s work on the ludicrously underwatched “Party Down” (also available on Netflix) as well as his current work on “Parks and Recreation,” I am always looking to find more evidence towards the case of “Adam Scott V. People Who Don’t Realize That Adam Scott is Insanely Talented.” I hit play on my Netflix interface, I got comfortable on the couch while the obligatory production logos flashed by onscreen, and was immediately confronted with a beautifully composed slow-mo closeup of Adam Scott crying quietly to himself in a diner like a fucking pro. This was not the lovable Ben Wyatt from “Parks and Rec.” This was a broken man, and you understand him immediately. It’s honestly one of the best opening shots I’ve ever seen, and is a testament to the direction, the cinematography, and what eventually amounts to the best example of Scott’s range as an actor thusfar.
If that opening shot makes this film sound depressing to you, you wouldn’t be wrong. Thankfully, however, it is also incredibly funny. This is entirely due to a combination of Lee Toland Krieger’s brilliant script and the performances of Adam Scott and JK Simmons. The three of them are able to deftly punctuate the darkness of the more dramatic turns of the story with moments of equally dark comedy. Make no mistake; the characters in this film are all awful people, with the possible exception of Peter (Caleb’s younger brother). They lie to each other, disrespect each other, and are just generally mean spirited. Unsurprisingly, that makes for a fairly equal measure of dark comedy and character-driven drama, and Krieger is able to wrangle those tones together into a cohesive and consistent mood that permeates every scene.
The film takes place primarily in Norfolk, Connecticut, which makes for a very muted visual atmosphere that compliments that mood perfectly. Everything feels bleak and uncertain throughout the entirety of the film, which works wonders for making the characters’ troubles all the more convincing. The very naturalistic execution of the photography, writing, and performances remind you that no matter how awful these people may be, they’re still human. People like this exist, and often do the horrible things they do with the best of intentions.
Overall, I was kind of blown away by “The Vicious Kind.” Based on the completely generic artwork Netflix chose to represent the film in their browsing interface, I expected it to be a moderately entertaining little slice-of-life indie dramedy. What I got instead was a painfully hilarious dark comedy with a handful of genuinely dramatic moments fueled by some fantastic performances, especially by Adam Scott and JK Simmons. It examines the emotional damage that can be caused by hurting the people you love, pulling no punches in the process. I highly recommend people check it out, but be warned that you will likely feel a wide variety of feelings.
Also, despite what you see in that trailer, I do not recommend trying to unlock your car with your dick. Probably won’t work.