Housewife review: Director Can Evrenol follows up the grotesque and Hellish Baskin with this stripped-back psycho-sexual thriller.
Housewife review by Kat Hughes.
Last year Turkish director Can Evrenol unleashed his debut feature Baskin into the world. We reviewed it ahead of the UK release and called it ‘the stuff that nightmares are made of’. It made for uncomfortable viewing, but Baskin did highlight that Evrenol was a filmmaker to keep an eye on. His follow-up, Housewife, is currently travelling the festival circuit, its latest stop being part of the Frightfest Halloween event.
After witnessing the brutal death of her sister and father at the hands of her mother, Holly (Clémentine Poidatz) had quite the tumultuous childhood. Now grown-up, Holly finds herself married to a man who writes about the Occult, whilst feeling overwhelmingly alone and still struggling with events in her past. Then an old friend reappears in her life and introduces Holly to her ‘cult’, Umbrella of Love and Mind. After being introduced to the leader, who seems to know a great deal about her past, Holly slowly starts to lose her grip on reality, unclear of what is a dream and what is real.
The narrative, much like Holly herself, becomes rather chaotic towards the end. The plot reflects Holly’s unravelling mind, and as such it’s a little bit of a struggle to keep up with exactly what is unfolding. In many ways this is a film that could be read as being about a woman’s late sexual awakening, in addition to combating fears of conception and pregnancy. This is a film about life, and the destructive power of the lies we tell ourselves.
Baskin and Housewife would made an interesting double-feature. Housewife is almost the opposite of Evrenol’s former work in every way. It’s almost as if Evrenol is revealing to two halves of his psyche. Baskin was dark, frantic and depraved, filled to bursting with squelching gore; Housewife is ethereal, thoughtful, relying on a handful of shocking moments rather than continuous violence to garner attention. This film approaches sex in a very different manner, Baskin was all about barbarically brutal intercourse, here it’s much more sensual and erotic. There are plenty of nightmarish images peppered throughout, with several standing out as instances of moving art.
Though Housewife may be Evrenol’s first English language film, he has not lost any of his visual vocabulary. Baskin was a strong mix of deep blues and flaming reds, and now again in Housewife we get a similar colour palette. This time the blues are softer, almost white in places, and the reds have an orange tint and warmth to them. The colours work to create a distinct dream-like atmosphere, at the same time as reinforcing Evrenol’s visual style.
Vastly different to his debut, Evrenol shows that he’s more than a one trick pony. Housewife is an intriguing and strangely sensual tale of the descent into madness.
Housewife review by Kat Hughes, October 2017.
Housewife screened as part of the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween 2017 programme.