Monday, February 22, 2010

The Vicious Kind (2009)

Movie quotes:
Donald: Trespass on my property again, and I will shoot you.
Caleb: Better work on your aim, then.

"I swear to god, if you fuck him up, I will dig a hole, and I will put you in it!"
- Caleb to Emma

"You alright, Caleb? Never seen you throw a hammer like that."
- J.T. (Vittorio Brahm)

"I just wish I could get over this…strange compulsion to protect Peter, you know, because…the only way I know how to do that is to…to hurt him."
- Caleb

At a glance:
The Vicious Kind is an intriguing character study of two brothers: one a bitter misogynist, and the other a na├»ve, puppy-dog virgin – and of the woman who is a love interest to both of them

Our review (with spoilers):
Caleb (Adam Scott) plays the brutal, dominant big brother to his virgin sibling Peter (Alex Frost). Caleb isn’t very happy about anything; but mostly, he’s angry at all women, since his girlfriend just cheated on him. Now Peter has a new girlfriend, Emma (Brittany Snow) who looks just like Caleb’s old one. Caleb sees it as his mission to save Peter from getting hurt like he did, but he’s also intensely attracted to Emma. His moods range from bitingly sarcastic to weeping to adoring to threatening and aggressive. It isn’t helping that he hasn’t slept in over a week.

The Vicious Kind is all about studying Caleb’s character, wondering what kind of a man he is, wondering what is going on inside his head and what he is capable of. For a while, Caleb’s character is intriguing shades of gray and black. Then it appears that he’s just psychotic. Then he seems to get a better grasp of reality for awhile. As his obsession with Emma becomes more transparent, we can see his appeal. He’s the wild, crazy brother, the big risk, the outlaw. Emma can see it too, and although she maintains her disgust on the outside, we know she finds Caleb very appealing.

Finally, without giving too much away, I’m not completely convinced at the plausibility in the path on which the Vicious Kind leads its characters. But then, it’s all about the journey anyway, and the journey is intriguing. Writer/Director Lee Toland Krieger makes it so by wringing sincere, stirring performances from his cast.

Rating: 3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"What lifts this trenchant dramedy out of the ordinary are Krieger's ear for dialogue and Adam Scott's breakthrough performance as a family's black sheep seemingly intent on earning that bad rap."
- Pam Grady (Boxoffice Magazine)


  1. This film is not about Caleb's attraction to Emma, but rather, his intense commitment to helping his brother, Peter. Rewatch it a couple times, it's truly much deeper than what has been posted here.

  2. Isn't it about both? Caleb's commitment to his brother is intense but I would say misguided.

  3. Caleb keeps saying that he's in it to help his brother, but his actions deny that. You'd better watch it a few more times - but only if you don't allow Adam Scott to convince you again. :)


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