Homewrecker, as the title suggests, is the story of one woman wrecking the homelife of another. To do this, director Zach Gayne uses all the tricks at his disposal: psychological manipulation, physical abuse, adultery, and, in this particular case, a pair of really sharp scissors.
What he doesn’t use, though, is any sense of subtlety.
The film stars Precious Chong as Linda and Alex Esso as Michelle, a mismatched pair of women who seem to have nothing in common except they happen to attend the same exercise classes. Desperate for a friend, Linda stalks Michelle to a coffee shop after class and basically bullies Linda, who works as an interior decorator, to come to her house and give her some decorating advice.
Usually, in a thriller like this, the film takes some time to let you get to know the main characters a bit as their natural friendship develops. There may be some quirks along the way as they discover more and more about each other, but the key is that the audience believes they could/should be friends. What is missing in Homewrecker, though, is any sense of mystery, any sense of unease about who the bad one of the pair will turn out to be. You know from the moment her wild eyes fill the screen that Linda is bat-poop crazy and Michelle needs to get away from her as soon as possible. And stay away.
But no. Michelle is either too nice or too weak or too poorly developed a character to do the sensible thing. She actually goes to Linda’s house and, as the audience already knows, it turns out to be the absolute wrong choice. Once the pair are settled into Linda’s house, a series of really strange things happen that make you want to scream at Michelle to snap out of it and run away. Although frustrating on one level because of Michelle’s inaction, some of the movie’s best scenes take place during her confinement in Linda’s house. The part when they sit down to play the Party Hunks video board game is actually rather delightful, especially the little videos added as part of the game. There is also a naturalness to their conversation while they play that is refreshing given the strident tones of the conversations up to that point. Linda is less shrewish and Michelle is less vacant. It doesn’t fix the core problem of the film — the total lack of mystery — but it makes Homewrecker more watchable.
After Party Hunks is over, and Linda admits that even though they are closer now she will never let Michelle leave, the movie starts to build momentum towards the finish line. The women chase each other through the house, wrestle around a few times, and generally fill every frame with as much frantic energy as they can muster until Linda finally manages to restrain Michelle in the bathroom with a pair of ‘love cuffs’.
And that is when the scissors are introduced and Homewrecker finally hits its stride as a thriller. It’s too little, too late but it’s still a fun ending to watch. That’s not to suggest you should fast forward to the final scenes. While it sorely lacks mystery or nuance, at least Homewrecker gives you a bad person to root against along the way before you revel in what finally happens to her.
IN SELECT DRIVE-IN THEATERS JULY 3, DVD/DIGITAL/ON DEMAND JULY 7
- John Black, Homewrecker