First off, I’d just like to say thank you to Clint Morris and the team at OctoberCoast PR for allowing me access to an online screener of their new Horror/Comedy release “Homewrecker”, Co-Written by Precious Chong and Alex Essoe, and Directed by Zach Gayne. Homewrecker is a film about identity and relationships and takes place almost solely in the confines of local Canadian suburbia. Michelle (played by the wonderful Alex Essoe) is struggling with navigating through some uncertain times with husband, Bobby (Kris Siddiqi). A chance meeting with Linda (Chong), a bubbly-middle-aged woman, sees the two initially discussing their life, love, and future but things take a dark turn after Michelle discovers the pair might be linked by proxy.
Homewrecker comes courtesy of Industry Standard Films and serves as Chong’s fourth writing credit and just Essoe’s second. The film has a bit 2016’s “Catfight” about it, only with a more psychological branding. It opens to a mix of vibrant swirling colors and a quirky guitar theme by Doug Martsch. There’s a low-fi indie rock vibe (think something you’d hear inside the Roadhouse in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” dispersed among most of the film – it works particularly well throughout that first act. The audio track is sharp and the bulk of newcomer DP, Delaney Siren’s cinematography looks good. From the outset though, Homewrecker is clearly all about these complicated but strong-willed women who are trying to find their way in an ever-changing landscape. The writing feels honest even if the situation might be far-fetched. Michelle is quite – a little anxious even, and Linda is quite the opposite. She appears to act much younger than her age would suggest, she also lacks general social awareness and often oversteps her bounds when it comes to her inquisitiveness. Most of us know someone like that, and if you don’t, it’s you! (haha). I felt awkward watching her, much the same as most of you who’ve been a fly on the wall in those kinds of situations would. Linda’s gaudy and crammed living space even has character… or should I say her homemade decor – though in this case that may not be a good thing. Huge wraps should be heaped upon both Precious and Alex for delivering engaging and nuanced performances – they’re ultimately the reason the film really works. The former piques your curiosity without that all too common heavy-handedness of a lot of cat and mouse games between characters and the latter keeps you hooked with her basic need for closure and validation.
Whilst most of the camera work and techniques pass by inconspicuously there are a handful of overly excessive focus pulls during medium close-ups of the two women. Perhaps it’s just Siren’s way of trying to break general conventions but it didn’t always work for me. The same can be said of the sliding guitars and reliance on dissonant whammy effects that eventually prove to be a distraction as Homewrecker enters its more suspenseful second act. I found myself anticipating a few of the specifics which were ultimately revealed in the third act (although surprisingly enough not the main one) and I’m still not sure how I feel about the split screen presentation that accompanies Michelle’s bartering and isolation. In addition, the film failed to act on a couple of my major pet peeves. The first being the obligatory mouth gag (in this case a hand towel) which isn’t affixed to said characters mouth, and therefore easy to spit out and call for help (although perhaps not in this particular case). The other problematic slice lay with a character’s use of a nonsensical item (a flip flop) in an action to desperately draw attention to themselves when they had a clear-cut choice to grab an actual impact weapon that was right there (a sledgehammer as it were). I’ll chalk that second one up to a cliche “slasher” movie moment – but damn I still hate that. There’s a somewhat bizarre and off-key yet kind of funny rendition of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay”, where I couldn’t actually tell if the character was breaking the fourth wall with her eyes or not – definitely weird.
Homewrecker serves as a short (just 75 minutes), sharp, and entertaining helping of Horror/Comedy from a couple of talented writers and a keen-eyed director in Zach Gayne. The score at times is unique, the cinematography is generally good, and the pair of performances are a couple of the strongest that I’ve seen in the world of independent film in 2020. There’s a few technical shortcomings and some convenient plot specifics and head scratching moments but the entertainment value is strong and Michelle and Linda’s respective arcs are dissected in a manner that I didn’t see coming. If you like the sound of Homewrecker it’s currently available on DVD through Uncork’d Entertainment and streaming through various digital platforms. You can check out the official trailer below!
Homewrecker – 6/10