Homewrecker, a film directed by Zach Gayne, follows a premise we have probably all seen before. The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, bunny-boiler type of film, fuelled by jealousy and a distant connection, but Zach thankfully takes this on an altogether different path, playing to classic entrapment and claustrophobia horror.
Not to be taken too seriously, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, that lead you to wonder where the horror is in the film. Rest assured, it is there. Although it depends then, how sensitive you are to certain fears, and how susceptible you are to discomfort through annoyance, repetition and anxiety-inducing desperation.
Michelle (Alex Essoe) “meets” Linda (Precious Chong) at a gym class, and Linda takes it upon herself to forge a friendship. Forward, intrusive questions and Linda’s inability to take no for an answer results in Michelle ending up in a compromising scenario.
The storyline is fairly simple, but it’s how the dynamic within the house plays out that makes this an entertaining addition to the genre.
The backstory, the connection, the constant temptation of escape and the sheer unpredictability of both Linda’s mental state and the outcome keeps you interested throughout.
Precious Chong played her role as Linda excellently, desperate, lonely and unnervingly crazy, the warning signs were there from the beginning. Strangely though, I think we’ve all met someone like Linda in our lives, mostly harmless, needlessly intense, unaware of their impact on others around them. It’s what makes Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes) as the unassuming, slightly cautious Michelle such a good match. You visibly see the reluctance, the frustration, and the continued despair, it’s hard to watch at times, but their differences only magnify this game of cat-and-mouse.
The sound was a bit hit-and-miss, both in terms of quality and content (although this was watched on a Screener), with a strange guitar soundtrack that wasn’t too dissimilar to a sound-check at a local battle of the bands’ event. Perhaps an ode to high school nostalgia, or maybe not.
The cinematography was interesting too, split screens used to mixed effect, but given the limited space available in the house, the claustrophobia came across in spades. Both aspects enhanced by the 80’s throwback tracks, alongside an often intense visual time-warp, wrapped in an uncomfortable wave of nostalgia.
There are inconsistencies, but then there always will be. The fighting and wrestling about seemed refreshingly realistic, fumbling through corridors trying to constantly escape. Yet the final scene(s), and one, in particular, appeared out of nowhere and took an unconvincing departure from this trajectory.
It didn’t stop me enjoying it though, quite the opposite, while out of place, this leads to a very well played-out, satisfying conclusion that will leave some reeling for a long while afterwards.
I had a lot of fun with this film. It surpassed my expectations, the premise felt original, and I really can’t imagine this film being as good as it was if Precious and Alex weren’t in the lead roles. Outstanding performances, thoroughly entertaining, and a film I would happily recommend if you like your horror a little on the strange side.
As always, thanks for reading. Make sure to check back soon for more Fantasia Film Festival coverage. For other films that we have covered in this year’s festival – CLICK HERE –
Words by Mark Blakeway
Reviewer/Contributor @ Moviehooker