'Homewrecker' Review: Precious Chong shines bright in a hilarious comedy of horrors perfect for lockdown watch
There's satirical horror, and then there is downright horror-comedy that leaves you peeing your pants because of how funny the terrifying situations look on screen. Such is the marvel that is Zach Gayne's indie thriller 'Homewrecker'. With a name salacious and scandalous enough to make it to Lifetime Network's list of top thrillers, it's easy to assume this will be some next level psychologically twisted thriller like the sensuous Julianne Moore-Liam-Neeson-Amanda Seyfried starrer 'Chloe'.
That there are two women at the focal point of the movie also could mislead one into believing this is 'The Purge' Season 1 all over again, and a jilted third member of a hot throuple wants some active revenge. But no, 'Homewrecker' will leave one chuckling throughout the 70-something minute joyride as we watch a woman being held hostage by another who just wants to chill with her, and occasionally, physically harm her.
Right at the onset of 'Killing Eve's debut season, the show's vicious professional psychopath assassin had said that despite her many whims and murderous instincts, all she really wants is a normal life with a nice apartment, a cool job and someone to watch movies with. Linda in 'Homewrecker' is not much different. Played by Precious Chong, the hilarious character of Linda can turn menacingly unbalanced when she's out for it.
Her victim in this comedy of horrors is Michelle (Alex Essoe) who is of course the woman Linda has been obsessed with and meticulously stalked to the point where they attend the same workout classes and cafes. She is your alternate universe Joe Goldberg from the Netflix thriller 'You'. Only, she is way more comical than Penn Badgeley's literary fanatic could ever be.
Fans of 'Into the Dark' might find an off resemblance here with its recent Mother's Day pegged feature installment 'Delivered' where Tina Majorino's Jenny inserts herself into the lives of her unsuspecting pregnant victims by attending the same yoga classes and pretty much barging in on them with her over-friendly, talkative aura. Linda is exactly the same. She reeks of how badly she needs a friend. And so she gets herself one by locking her up in her own house and forcing her to watch movies and play board games in the free time between torturing her.
It's evident that Chong and Essoe wrote the screenplay with Gayne. For a movie that barely ropes in any other character, neither leaves the one predominant location and has a budget that allows only split screens to intensify the horror, things are saved from falling flat by the lead actors scripting their own characters. Considering the movie never leaves Linda's property making for an ideal quarantine watch, things can get a little monotonous.
There's only so much one can do in a limited space. Not Linda though. Chong's parlay comes from her father Tommy Chong whom she followed into comedy not that long ago and she clearly is weaving wonders! Compelling and convincing as the mentally ill Linda, Chong almost makes you feel sorry for this vicious psychopath who just wants to torture the object of her love. Sort of like a child ripping off the head of her favorite Barbie doll just because she can.
Linda fancies '80s movies, board games for teens, and the 1994 Lisa Loeb hit 'Stay' — all pointing towards a glorious past she isn't ready to let go of. For quaint little moments between her outbursts, it becomes almost difficult to believe that she has a woman captive against her will and that is the Stockholm Syndrome transcending beyond the screen thanks to Chong's impeccable writing of the character.
Eddo as Michelle is as restrained as victims of these circumstances can be. Michelle tries to understand Linda and gives up when she is being changed with a sledgehammer. There's a tragic acceptance of her fate after which point there's only regret forever accommodating Linda's disruptive friendship. But the fun lies in Michelle's attempts at escaping from Linda's captivity, reminding us that were it not for her, it would be exceedingly difficult to see Linda for all the problematic things she is.
It's interesting how sorry we feel for both protagonists. While we are rooting for Michelle, viewers might find themselves curious about what Linda plans next for her little guinea pig. Devoid of usual fillers most horror flicks are plagued by, 'Homewrecker' is both compact and complex, constantly keeping us on our toes about what the hilarious Linda will be up to next. Violence is not a big deal for her, she can be as notorious as the infamous clown Pennywise. But that's an unfair judgment. Linda is the femme Pennywise.
'Homewrecker' arrived at select drive-in theatres on July 3 with a Digital and DVD release on July 7.