We’ve all been in a position where someone wants to be our friends and we’re a little too empathetic to draw a boundary for them not to cross. In Uncork’d Entertainment‘s Homewrecker, audiences learn why giving into friendship advances you’re having doubts about may not be the best thing. Directed by Zach Gayne and written by Gayne, Precious Chong, and Alex Essoe, Homewrecker uses every expectation that thrillers around jealousy have built up in your mind and then takes a sledgehammer to them over and over again.
In Homewrecker, a selected feature for the now virtual Chattanooga Film Fest, Linda (Precious Chong), a woman in her early 40s meets Michelle (Alex Essoe), who is in her early 30s at a workout class. Newly married and an interior designer, Michelle is married to a man named Robert who she loves despite their currently rocky marriage. On the other side, Linda lives alone and relies on painting and exercise classes to get her through life. When the two meet, Linda insists that Michelle come over to help her understand how to improve her home as an attempt to cheer up a visibly down Michelle.
But as Michelle becomes increasingly uncomfortable, Linda’s jealousy and delusion begins to seep into the conversation and she begins a game of cat and mouse between herself and Michelle. What starts as two grown women discussing life slowly slips into teenage banter, board games, and discussion as Linda claws to return to her high school glory days, reeling from being the other woman in her relationship.
The volatile chemistry between the two women is palpable from the beginning. Under the surface, it’s clear that Linda is up to something – an obsession with Michelle as a person? With Michelle’s life? Her husband? It could be any of it and Chong keeps you guessing until the very last moment with her manic and dangerous performance. For Essoe’s role, Michelle is a woman in an increasingly uncomfortable situation, attempting to keep the peace and pushing away her own worry to placate the woman who has invited her into her home.
While jealousy and delusion are at the heart of Linda’s motives, politeness is the villain of Homewrecker. Now, this may seem like a push, but hear me out. The entire reason that Michelle finds herself at the mercy of this deranged woman is because of a push to meet the societal expectations of politeness. Don’t hurt this woman’s feelings. Be warm. Be empathetic. Be there for her. And Linda exploits this, pushing her deeper and deeper into awkwardness until it spirals into full-blown danger. This is expertly crafted and through their performances, Chong and Essoe sell it. That said, while Essoe is the woman we’re rooting for, Chong steals every frame.
Stuck in the 80s and desperate for love, Chong as Linda is terrifyingly focused on being loved. From singing a 90s bop into a sex toy to making up deranged rules for a dating board game and of course running around her home with a sledgehammer, Chong is believable in the madness. The very apparent evil that Linda is out to commit is undercut by how depressingly lonely and stuck in her past she is.
Additionally, the small fight scenes between the two women and the minimal practical effects use the location of Linda’s home to great effect. It’s contained and it feels like the two women would really fight if pushed to it. To top it all off, the dark humor throughout Homewrecker causes the audience to laugh as a response to things being unbearably uncomfortable and outrageous.
Homewrecker is everything you need in a film. It’s darkly funny, ridiculously sad, and has just enough horror to thrill you in your seat. With strong performances, this is a title that feels well beyond its 76-minute runtime in the best way possible.
Screens at Toronto After Dark: Horror, Sci-Fi & Action Film Festival, Oct 17-25, 2019 at Scotiabank Theatre. Info & Tix: http://torontoafterdark.com HOMEWREC…
HomewreckerÂ is everything you need in a film. It’s darkly funny, ridiculously sad, and has just enough horror to thrill you in your seat. With strong performances, this is a title that feels well beyond its 76-minute runtime in the best way possible.