Review: Homewrecker (CUFF 2020)

Title: Homewrecker
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Zach Gayne
Starring: Alex Essoe, Precious Chong, Tony Matthews
Runtime: 1 hr 16 mins

What It Is: Michelle (Essoe) is an interior designer who, at one of her gym sessions, is approached by the attentive and spunky Linda (Chong), who seems to find her again while Michelle tries to get work done at a cafe. Seeming friendly and in good spirit, the incredibly eager and pushy Linda convinces Michelle to swing by her home as a client. Things start getting awkward when Michelle realizes that her host may be going through ore than she’s letting on as she resists the idea more and more of letting Michelle out the door.

What We Think: Right off the bat does this film conduct itself as a mystery, lending you some seemingly random imagery of a bathbomb set to music that reminds one of the beginning of Blue Velvet. In this right, the intense yet self-aware humor makes the circumstances more painful to watch. It’s a bit of a slow-kicker at first, feeling like a bit of a cycle between the two characters as their struggle increases, but is successful in that it was pretty juicy to watch. Making the call back to films like Misery, I could not help but think about this film as a landmark in what could very well be a new subgenre of horror: Karen horror. Linda is definitely a special kind of Karen type and although the incredible focus on the character can get grating, it almost makes for a juicy story. I’ve watched my fare share of horror, and to call this watch “uncomfortable” is a bit of an understatement. Chong brings a great deal of life and strangeness to this predictable yet hilariously wide-eyed, immature character; there are many a shot where she’s literally just staring at you in the face and it is the creepiest feeling ever, maybe because it’s a more tangible horror. Essoe, a seasoned scream queen from awesome works such as Starry Eyes, also brings her A-game as the audience’s anchor. Even as the performances end up really great, there were certain things I felt could be improved on the more technical side. Some of the line delivery feels a bit off at the beginning, which I feel is a lot due to some formulaic (expositional) writing. A lot of the framing can be a little confusing, the hand held feeling a little amateur though I could excuse that as a something that was more of a stylistic design. The choreography also tends to be a stiff some, the leads seeming to just be attempting at fighting at each other, what appears to be useless waling, actions cut off for the sake of saving from any closer stunt work… namely it was unconvincing though did not interfere with the quality of the story. I dunno, the silliness of the action scenes could also add to the comic edge this film wears proudly, so in the end it’s not the biggest detraction.

Our Grade: C, I think ultimately I did enjoy this. The twists, the drama, the conflict all makes for an indulgent watch, and that’s really all I could ask for. Though imperfect, the quirky characteristics and more subliminal story elements make for a fun, effective, and weird viewing experience. The more I think about the plot and what’s revealed about the characters despite what was unsaid, the more I’ve come to really appreciate it. If you’re hosting a viewing party, maybe give this this one. a whack.

Author: Chai Simone