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Review: Homewrecker – “Truly unique, unhinged and dangerous fun”

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Directed by Zach Gayne (States), Homewrecker stars Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Doctor Sleep) and Precious Chong (L.A. Confidential, Pearl Harbour), was written by Gayne, Essoe and Chong and is released on digital in the UK on the 24th of May.

The bubbly and confident middle-aged Linda (Chong) and insecure twenty-something interior designer Michelle (Essoe) recognise each other from around the gym, where they share the same classes. After Linda lends Michelle a tampon one day the ice is broken and Linda is soon all up in Michelle’s personal space, interrupting her working in a coffee shop to batter down her defences with a barrage of blunt questions and, like a lot of us, Michelle is too darn nice to just tell her to get lost.

Before she knows it, Michelle is in Linda’s car and then her house, which she has agreed to cast her professional eyes over. Linda’s home is decorated in red flags, like ultra-creepy paintings and a sledgehammer on the wall, but Michelle still doesn’t bail, highlighting the crazy levels of what we will put up with to not upset somebody. Soon it’s too late and Michelle is knocked out and locked up, Linda wanting to keep a hold of her to drink tea and talk about boys

Linda was super popular in high school, but is now lonely and sad and desperate for genuine connection. Precious Chong’s performance here is honestly brilliant. Her Linda is all unblinking heavy eye contact, filterless and always pushing and pushing making things as excruciatingly awkward as possible. What I liked the most about her performance is that even when Linda crosses the line and becomes dangerous, she is still fun and likeable. Like, I know she’s bonkers, but Chong plays her with a pathetic pathos so even when dangerous she still does not feel evil – so you can understand why Michelle and her could still play a boardgame after having a knockdown, drag-out fight.

Alex Essoe has been fantastic since Starry Eyes, but somehow also manages to rise in my estimation with every single role. Also being someone who is too nice to strangers for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, I really identified with her and cringed in recognition as she got sucked deeper and deeper into Linda’s obsessive mess. Viewers of the excellent Doctor Sleep will recognise when she switches on her ‘Wendy mode’ when shit starts to go down, which also makes it an even bigger kick to see what happens when she gets pushed too far…

The stars and Zach Gayne have crafted a great story and script with natural, often darkly hilarious, dialogue that manages to balance the film on a knife-edge between horror-thriller and black comedy that will keep you wincing, gasping and chuckling all the way through. There are also plenty of surprises to keep you on your toes and Gayne’s direction is stylish with cool cuts, cues, sound edits and an original use of split-screen, but he also clearly recognises when to back off and just capture the easy magic of Alex Essoe versus Precious Chong.

Not really like anything else, with a vibe and attitude all its own, Homewrecker is a psycho-thriller full of bruising and amusing scraps and awkward and uncomfortable laughs. Like Single White Female meets Catfight with some of Uncut Gems’ intense anxiety-inducing relieved by some wonderfully weird touches and unexpected and awkward humour, it is truly unique, unhinged and dangerous fun. It also features Party Hunks, the greatest fictional VHS board game ever.

Homewrecker is released on digital in the UK on the 24th of May.

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