The Vicious Kind (2008): Lee Toland Krieger's small-time indie heightened by a strong script and cast

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The Vicious Kind, Poster, Directed by leo toland krieger, adam scott, brittany snow, alex frost
The Vicious Kind (2008) By Lee Toland Krieger
IMDb Ratings: 6.9
Guest Reviewer's Rating: 8.5
GenreComedy | Drama
CastAdam Scott, Brittany Snow, Alex Frost
Country: USA
Language: English
Runtime: 92 min

Summary: A man tries to warn his brother away from the new girlfriend he brings home during Thanksgiving, but ends up becoming infatuated with her in the process.

A man (Adam Scott) tries to lure his brother (Alex Frost) away from the new girlfriend (Brittany Snow) he brings home during Thanksgiving, but instead, ends up becoming infatuated with her in the process. However, it isn't just his affections that are running wild here, she has some for him too, believe it or not. Since this film was produced by Neil Labute, aka, a dude who likes to mess with anybody and everybody's emotions, I expected exactly that. But what started as a cheap spin-off, ended up being something totally different that I was not expecting. Okay, maybe I was but at least this wasn't no The Shape of Things. Yeah, that one is just a bit too much for me.

Adam Scott as Caleb Sinclaire in The Vicious Kind, Directed by Leo Toland Krieger
Adam Scott as Caleb Sinclaire in The Vicious Kind
This is the second feature from writer/director Lee Toland Krieger and the guy definitely has an ear for natural dialogue that makes this story all of the more believable. These people actually feel like they talk like real people, with real problems, and I could definitely tell exactly why they would all somehow come together in this one story and share each of their emotions. As dramatic and sad I may make it sound, the film is actually still very funny where a lot of dark comedy comes into play, just totally sneaking its way into this film out of nowhere. By the end of course, the laughs go away but it's the way Krieger made this flick bounce and move with his comedy, that really made it work. It's just like as if Labute wrote this one, but without Aaron Eckhart anywhere to be seen.

Brittany Snow as Emma in The Vicious Kind, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Brittany Snow as Emma in The Vicious Kind
But with all of these little, indie flicks about dysfunctional families, we can all expect the same thing here but it's what really is underneath the surface is what sets it apart and makes it all the more special. This film talks plenty about how plenty of people out there can hurt us without ever realizing they are doing so, just because they are fulfilling their needs and doing what it is that they want to do. This comes into play many, many times in the story and we see how all of these people interact with each other, without ever trying to hurt each other, as hard as that may be. Yet, what's so painful to watch is how many times they actually do whether it's totally in their control or not.

Alex Frost as Peter Sinclaire in, The Vicious Kind, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Alex Frost as Peter Sinclaire in The Vicious Kind
Make no mistake about it though, the movie doesn't just downright depress the hell out of you and show you that humans are cruel, unlikable beings. In a way, it somehow touched me on an emotional level by the end where we see this story not only come full-circle, but the characters finally go through a few revelations on their own time. As terribly mean-spirited this movie may have been for a good portion of it, when it ends, there is still some light of hope and happiness to be found. Well, for some characters of course. Others, well, they weren't so lucky and you'll just have to see why, to understand why.

Adam Scott and Brittany Snow in The Vicious Kind, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
Adam Scott and Brittany Snow in The Vicious Kind
What really took me by storm with this flick was Adam Scott's breakthrough performance as Caleb Sinclaire. After watching and falling head over heels for him in Parks and Recreation, I've began to realize, once again, that Scott has got some real talent behind all of the stammering and stuttering he does on as Ben Wyatt. But what surprised me more than anything, was how damn well he had this dark-soul down. Caleb, right from the start, is a guy you can tell has something big and difficult going on inside of his head, but rather than letting it all out, talking to certain person about it, and getting help, he just takes all of his frustration out on others either by yelling at them, telling them how terrible of a person they are, or calling them names, or, well, you get the picture. Basically, this guy is an a-hole, but a very messed up one that you feel like could do right in this world if he just wasn't so damn angry all the time, chill out, lie down, and get some sleep for once. Scott shows that he can pull this kind of dickhead character off, but also be looked as very likable just because of the way he handles himself and how you can tell that there's something still very endearing about him beneath all of the anger and hate.

A Still from The Vicious Kind, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
A Still from The Vicious Kind
Another surprise performance here was Brittany Snow as Caleb's little bro's girlfriend, Emma. Snow is an actress we don't see much of (unless it's the constant re-runs of The Pacifier on USA) but she shows that with whatever she can do, she can bring out the best in her character and make you not only interested in her, but wondering what it is that she'll do next. Because of Caleb, you think that this chick is a terrible whore that cheated on her boyfriend just for this one kid, but little do we know that she's as sweet as they come and is just as innocent as Caleb's brother in the first place. Or, so we think. Alex Frost plays the brother, Peter, and seems like a very nice and innocent kid that just wants to have his first love regardless of what is going on in his big bro's life. Nothing else to really say about him other than the fact that his brother was a way better character, but that isn't a hit on Frost's acting, it's just how the character was written. Also, J.K. Simmons is here as their father, Donald, and shows why he can pretty much do no wrong with whatever film it is that they throw him in.

Adam Scott as Caleb Sinclaire in The Vicious Kind, Directed by Lee Toland Krieger
A Still from The Vicious Kind
Some of it may go towards being predictable by the end, but nonetheless, The Vicious Kind works with a very smart, very emotional, and overall strong script that gets heightened by the cast that's working their chops around here in this small-time indie.

About Author - 

This author of this post is Dan O'Neill who writes at Dan the Man's Movie Reviews. The views expressed by the author are personal.

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The Vicious Kind (2008) Trailer

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