[Fantastic Fest review] ‘HOMEWRECKER’ – let me tell you about my best friend in this soapy thriller

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James Clay // Film Critic

HOMEWRECKER

Not rated, 86 minutes.
Director: Zach Gayne
Cast: Precious ChongAlex Essoe and Kris Siddiqi

AUSTIN – If you are lucky, you have a best friend – somebody who you can be with when things get rough. Someone you can be silly with, even in the most inappropriate situations, and most importantly, somebody who just gets what is it like to be you. That kind of love cannot be forced, and that is precisely where the soapy Canadian comedic-thriller HOMEWRECKER comes into play.

The film, directed by Zach Gayne and written by its two stars Precious Chong (PEARL HARBOR) and Alex Essoe (STARRY EYES and the upcoming DOCTOR SLEEP), works as a compelling two-hander that discusses the perils of loneliness and a nasty case of arrested development. Chong is lightning quick with her delivery of dialogue as she descends into some unsettling places, and Essoe plays the part of a person who could be approaching a life crossroads as she learns to play nice with somebody who is in desperate need of a buddy.

The story is a self-contained story that starts with an innocent yoga class and a budding friendship between Michelle (Essoe), a married woman who is questioning becoming a mother, and Linda (Chong), a pushy wannabe-friend who wants to gossip about boys. What starts as an innocent place quickly turns into a bizarre string of events that flirts with danger – more than actually taking the plunge into a baffling third act that’s not shocking but not entirely successful.

After a series of events that play with power struggles, the women learn about themselves through physical altercations, witty banter, and a grim comedic sensibility running underneath. It’s a familiar template, but that doesn’t hurt Gayne’s film from being successful in its own right. It jostles between a mix of indie style, shaky-cam aesthetic, and a tight thriller that literally has a sledgehammer effect on its characters.

For whatever faults, HOMEWRECKER may have in its reductive politics on letting a man become between a woman. That doesn’t stop Chong from being an absolute force of nature who catapults the film into a deranged territory. Word to the wise, think twice about making friends in local public settings. The film plays with comedic elements that don’t entirely land, and their script offers up some cringe-worthy moments of awkwardness.

HOMEWRECKER is a memorable experience that finds success in a spontaneous subversion that allows for a nuanced depiction of obsession. Many will remember the film for its third act reveals and Chong’s unforgettable turn that elevates the material into a captivating state of affairs. At the very least, this film comments on societal pressures of progressing in life and doesn’t leave a lot of room for sympathy for the people who fell down the social ladder. With best friends like these, who needs enemies?

Grade: B-

HOMEWRECKER is currently on the festival circuit. We will keep you posted on any release information.