Homewrecker’s Claustrophobic Tone Hits Close to Home
The dangers of being too polite for your own good are expertly rendered in Homewrecker, a simple yet effective shocker from Uncork’d Entertainment. A cheap, dirty yet enjoyable experience, Homewrecker more or less succeeds on its own modest, trashy terms.
Linda (Precious Chong) is a deeply lonely woman, with the kind of face and sad body language easy to feel pity for. First meeting the slim, young, attractive Michelle (Alex Essoe) at a dance class, she awkwardly forces herself into her personal space at a café. Michelle tries to drop some inoffensive hints — “It’s a great place to get work done” she says, while staring at her laptop— but Linda is completely nonplussed, eventually convincing the poor Michelle to join her for a drink at home. Michelle agrees, seemingly out of an inability to say “no” — unaware that she is walking into a carefully laid trap.
The final result is a fun, no-brains two-hander that uses the generational divide as a springboard (or, more probably, excuse) for inter-feminine violence. Linda is a deeply nostalgic member of Generation X, forcing Michelle to watch the ultra-cheesy 80s film Girls Just Want to Have Fun, play bizarre board games, and talk about “boys”. On the other hand, Michelle seems like a digitally savvy woman with almost everything neatly held together. Yet while these corny remnants of pop culture seem pointedly outdated — as if to say Linda herself is a relic of a former time with no place in the modern world — any real analysis of generation divide is missed here. Linda’s hatred of millennials seems more comic than cutting; her intense dislike of smartphone usage often bordering on the absurd.
But any kind of genuine insight matters little over this tiny yet deeply entertaining 75-minute film. Chong, for one, is brilliant. She has a lot of fun with the role, starting off as someone merely on the verge of a nervous breakdown before descending into full-fledged lunacy — a high point capturing her singing along to Lisa Loeb’s trapped-in-the-90s “Stay (I Missed You)”. Likewise, Alex Essoe provides a masterclass of Canadian politeness, unafraid to speak her actual mind — even in the throes of genuine danger — for fear of causing offence. And while Linda’s arc eventually loses focus — submerged under a barrage of ‘crazy woman’ tropes — the ever-shifting, unexpected dynamic between the two women help the movie stay fresh.
This is complemented by Zach Gayne’s directing style, making effective use of split-screens as opposed to cross-cutting to depict fight-and-flight scenes. Taking place against a surprisingly complex script, rife with betrayed lovers and long-simmering secrets, as well as containing a pitch-perfect landing, and Homewrecker gets a lot of mileage out of its low-budget and simple premise. Perhaps on another day, I wouldn’t be so generous; yet given the immense amount of time we have all spent locked up by ourselves against our will, Homewrecker’s claustrophobic tone hits very close to home.
- Redmond Bacon
Homewrecker opens in select theaters and Drive-Ins July 3, 2020