Michelle is at the point in her life, struggling as a 30-something year old interior designer, where the urge to have children is strong. When trying to conceive with her husband seems to be going downhill, she is befriended by an overly obsessive stranger, Linda, who has took an uncomfortably intense interest in her personal life. An innocent enough invitation back to Linda’s house proves costly with Linda’s flickering infatuation for Michelle’s private business that turns quickly sour in a cat and mouse game of survival. Trapped, Michelle must understand Linda’s madness in order to stay alive.
Ca-ra-zyyy! That’s one of many ways to label Zach Gayne’s woman-on-woman scuffle in the comedy-horror “Homewrecker” that will surely turn many feminist heads at breakneck and contentious speeds with the better woman standing scenario. Gayne’s freshman film tests the wills of two very different women and their counter mindsets while excavating a common core connection rooted subconsciously deep within them both. A distinction that gives the 2020 riotous feature an edge is the two sole actresses, Alex Esso (“Starry Eyes,” “Doctor Sleep”) and Precious Chong (“Luba”), daughter of famed stoner comedian Tommy Chong, portraying Michelle and Linda are also “Homewreckers” cowriters alongside Gayne, equipping their characters with an authentic image by filling the roles themselves and getting out of the project exactly what’s desired. The trio also produce the film in a coproduction with fellow producer Josh Mandel of Industry Standard Films and under the financials of Precious’s mother Shelby Chong, Chris Morsby, and Delaney Siren as executive producers.
Precious Chong, hands down, steals all the glory in “Homewrecker” with her wide-eyed, mentally unstable, zany, and stuck in the 80’s single white female that makes Glenn Close performance seem diminutive and more like an innocent and shy little crush in “Fatal Attraction.” Linda epitomizes the very definition of crazy as a person unable to progress from an era of her peak youth being the most popular girl in school, judging by the VHS tapes, 80’s soundtrack, and outdated board games, I’d say Linda’s popular party girl inner nature hasn’t disembarked from the late 80’s to early 90’s train, and Chong delivers a singularity tweak of neurosis and delusion that frighteningly teeters from over exaggeration to real representation. Unfortunately, Chong’s invasive, off-the-rocker performance overshadows Alex Esso’s more level-headed, amiable, and fight or flight Michelle and her unconventional responses and reactions to Linda’s incessant behavior in, perhaps, a more poorly written character. Michelle is the too nice to the point where opportunities arise for escape or attack and she chooses the total opposite in trying to reason with an unreasonable person. The motivation behind Michelle for even going to Linda’s house is rather slim so either something deep in her subconscious wills her to go (maybe Linda’s eagerness to lend an ear on a torrent of personal unloading) or she’s a just gullible to a fault. Rounding out the cast is the man in the middle, Robert, played by Kris Siddiqi and the friendly neighbor Wilson, played by Tony Matthews (“The Craft: Legacy”), in a bit part that’s a clever homage to the Wilson character in Tim Allen sitcom, “Home Improvement,” as he peeps just over the fence to say hello as well as an contradictory play on the “Homewrecker” title.
Aforementioned, there is gray area in the character actions and rationales that thins much of the story’s harrowing affect and even seeps slightly into the more dark comedic moments. Yelling (in my head) at the screen for Michelle to jump out the window (after lingering half out for clearly a minute) or taking advantage to overpower Linda (during a moment of long poignant embrace) was just a waste of my mental breath as the Michelle is frustratingly too timid, too nice, too afraid to cut the unseen bounds that holds her back from reinstalling balance in her upheaved life held in Linda’s unstable hands. The pacing a bit of a drag as well by holding onto scenes, with various cuts, longer than necessary. For a film slightly over an hour long, the conversing segments between the principle characters, Linda and Michelle, could last up to 20 minutes with more than most of the chat awry by Linda’s idiosyncrasies. What works for “Homewrecker” is single day story set inside Linda’s home that really hones in and develops the snowballing turmoiled relationship between the two women. Being the film’s strong suit in unveiling the crux of the problem that’s not surface level crazy person versus sane person, the plot point revelation truly did blindside me and I was like, whoa. Everything made sense without having to dig deeper into exposition to understand the minor details of what was happening exactly. “Homewrecker” also has great brief climatic gore involving an emblematic sledgehammer and a pair of sharp scissors that, again, comes unexpectedly from a cat and mouse game that has been rather tame for most of the film. Zach Gayne’s film pleasantly puts a blood red cherry on top of a deranged ice scream sundae dripping with fanaticism fudge in a scrumptious little fatal attraction.
Efficiently compact but just as aggressive as an overly jealous and overactive girlfriend plagued by psychosis, “Homewrecker” premiered it’s way digitally into UK homes by 101 Films back on May 24th. The Toronto, Canada production is presented in a widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio with a lean runtime of 76 minutes. Co-producer Delaney Siren serves as the cinematographer for “Homewrecker’s” regular split screen and multiple angle shots denoting a clear sense of where each character location is without the film feeling like a typical slasher while maintaining the focus on telling both women’s side. “Homewrecker” marks Siren’s first feature film as a cinematography, but has multiple credits in the genre for macabre inspired music videos under the Toronto based music recording and film production company, “Reel Wolf Productions.” For a film that has completely and satisfactory bookends, there are no bonus scenes during or after the credits. Quirky and dark, “Homewrecker” is a read between the lines comedy-thriller about abduction, devotion questioning , delusional obsession, and honesty.
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