Homewrecker review: A young interior designer gets more than she bargains for when she visits the home of her new friend.
Shot in only a handful of days, with a small crew, Homewrecker shows just what can be achieved on limited time and budget. A true labour of love, the film rises above many others with triple the production values and time by being completely original. The film stars Starry Eyes‘ Alex Essoe as Michelle, an interior designer with an inability to say no to people. Michelle is one of those people whom is polite to a fault, and it is this politeness that leads her down a dangerous path after meeting Linda (Precious Chong) at the gym. What starts innocently enough with Linda giving Michelle a tampon, soon turns into something far more dangerous after Michelle is strong-armed into visiting Linda’s house. Here she’s subjected to cocktails and eighties chick flicks, which doesn’t sound that bad, but when Michelle tries to leave, Linda goes to extreme lengths to ensure that this doesn’t happen.
With Homewrecker, director Zach Gayne lets his leads do the bulk of the work. Essoe and Chong are perfectly cast as the two contrasting personalities. Essoe is the reserved, uptight younger woman, Chong the over-the-top, bolshy and world-weary older woman. Each character has a lot of layers. Linda may project confidence, but is inherently lonely and just in need of a friend. She’s the person who peaked in high-school and as such has become stuck at that age, her behaviour being very much that of an emotional teenage girl. Michelle is desperate to start a family, and although she projects the perfect life, great job and husband, she’s riddled with unsettling feelings that her marriage isn’t as strong as she makes out. All these insecurities and real truths spill out over the course of the svelte run-time, and whilst there may not be a great deal of ‘action’ going on, there is plenty to sink your teeth into.
Both Essoe and Chong are credited as writers along with Gayne. The upshot of this is that, for once in a film, the dialogue feels authentic. The words out of Michelle and Linda’s mouths are things that people actually say, a rarity in the fictional world. With both actors having a hand in the script, they cleverly choose words and phrases that sound one hundred percent natural when spoken by them. Their naturalistic words are then combined with a fantastically kitsch plot and, at least in Chong’s case, exaggerated performances. Things get pretty kooky in places too with a brilliantly placed rendition of Lisa Loebb’s ‘Stay’ that will have all the nineties kids singing along.
Gayne then compliments these strong performances with some nice visual flourishes. There’s some nifty use of the split-screen (a technique not really seen since 24 made it popular) that allows the viewer to always see both Linda and Michelle. Were we to just stay on one side of a door, audience’s would likely identify with that character alone. The audience having such an omniscient view of whats going on means that it’s up to them which woman they side with.
If you’re in the mood for something a little unusual with some stellar female leads then Homewrecker is the film for you. A triumph of indie filmmaking, one that isn’t afraid to wear its kookiness on its sleeve.
Homewrecker was reviewed at Fantasia Festival 2019.