Film and TV

The Vicious Kind

It's a telling detail that indie film's premier misanthrope, Neil LaBute, has an executive-producer credit on writer-director Lee Toland Krieger's scathing dysfunctional-clan dramedy, The Vicious Kind. Meet small-town Connecticut construction worker Caleb Sinclaire (Adam Scott, blistering), a sleep-deprived misogynist who maliciously projects his bitterness and insecurities on anyone foolish enough to come near. "All women are whores," he schools his younger brother, Peter (Alex Frost), who has come home from college for Thanksgiving, bringing along his new girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow). Reminded of the ex who cheated on him — and also his estranged father (J.K. Simmons) and late mother's split over adultery — Caleb is convinced that Emma is no better. This dude is messed up: First he's threatening to kill her if she hurts his bro, then he's apologizing, flirting and stalking her. So emerges a twisted, most unexpected love triangle. Implausible? Well, who are college girls more likely to want: the sweet virgin or the disturbed bad boy? Inevitably, the film devolves into weepy catharsis, but with slick cinematography and colorfully cruel dialogue for Scott to chew up and spit at every member of this fine ensemble. It's the most entertaining Neil LaBute movie he never made.

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Aaron Hillis is a regular film contributor at Voice Media Group. VMG publications include Denver Westword, Miami New Times, Phoenix New Times, Dallas Observer, Houston Press and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.