By Dr. Zaius
Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 at 5:02 pm
Directed by Zach Gayne
Written by Precious Chong, Alex Essoe, Zach Gayne
Starring Alex Essoe, Precious Chong, Kris Siddiqi
Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Rating: 16+ | Run Time: 1h 16min
Release date: July 7, 2020 (Drive-In/DVD); July 7, 2020 (Digital/On Demand)
From Uncork’d Entertainment and Dark Star Pictures, Homewrecker is a surprising little movie. Imagine Single White Female meets Fatal Attraction by way of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but done almost as a minimalist stage play. And while the set was a bit conventional, it quickly spirals out of control in the best possible ways. The fact that the two leads co-wrote and co-produced the movie alongside director Zach Gayne shows how intimate this project was.
Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Doctor Sleep) is Michelle, an interior designer working remotely at a coffee shop when she’s interrupted by Linda (Precious Chong, L.A. Confidential). We see in an opening montage that these women share many similar hobbies like spin class, yoga, and ballet, but they aren’t friends. That makes it more awkward when Linda cozies up to Michelle and starts making conversation and not taking hints. This is a moment that feels so familiar to anyone who’s had to feign interest in someone else and every second feels like an hour as you pass the time.
Michelle is visibly stressed about the pending unwanted conversation before Linda gets into personal stuff. Suddenly Michelle is opening up and before I can scream “WHY?!” at the screen, Michelle says aloud, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this.” There is an authenticity to the dialogue in this film and it is dialogue heavy, especially in the first two acts. You can tell how much Essoe and Chong put into these roles, and you can sense the authority they have over their characters since they were part of the writing process.
Linda offers to hire Michelle to redecorate her house and the allure of a potential new client is enough for Michelle to overcome her better judgment and go with Linda on a ride to her house, ignoring random cursing at strangers along the way. Again, part of you as the viewer is yelling at Michelle NOT to go with this woman, but you put yourself in her shoes and it doesn’t seem so bad. She’s nice. She’s not crazy, she’s just eccentric. First it’s “look at the house,” then “have a drink.” Precious Chong is so over the top without going too over the top if that makes sense. She gives Linda an air of patheticness that makes you feel sorry for her. She’s older than Michelle. She’s not as attractive. She’s lonely, no husband, no kids. Maybe she just needs a friend.
Of course there is something far more sinister about Linda and it’s here at the end of the first act where the story comes into full vision. Soon, Michelle is knocked out and locked in an upstairs bedroom. She can’t lie to Linda because she’s been dosed with truth serum. Things get personal and creepy. Her escape attempts are thwarted and she’s basically forced into playing Linda’s sadistic game of “House” hoping to wear her down enough to leave. And then when you think it can’t get wilder and darker… well holy hell, the final act reveals secrets and goes to some dark places.
Homewrecker is about 75 minutes and wrings every drop of tension it can in the allotted time. It wastes nothing. This is a two-woman show from Essoe and Chong and they are fantastic. Special kudos go out to Doug Martsch for the music in the film. The film is creepy, tense, violent, and oddly humorous throughout. Homewrecker is out in select drive-in theaters now and will be released on DVD/Digital/On Demand on July 7th. If you’re in the mood for a low-budget indie horror film that feels like an off-Broadway cult production, check this one out.