★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
With splendid performances from its two stars and crackerjack direction, Homewrecker combines some of the darkest humor on screen this year with plenty of creepy chills and shocks.
Directed by Zach Gayne
Dark comedy chiller Homewrecker is a superbly acted dive into both psychological and physical horror with a keen eye on the social aspects of modern manners and competitive relationships between women. Chock full of squirm-inducing moments and uncomfortable humor, it is a sometimes uneasy watch that is highly rewarding.
Michelle (Alex Essoe, Starry Eyes  and Midnighters ) is an interior designer who meets the slightly older Linda (Precious Chong, Falling Water TV series [2016-2018]) after a yoga class session when the former finds herself in an awkward situation. When Michelle tries to do some work in a coffee shop, Linda interrupts her and goads her initially into a conversation, and then into visiting her home right away for some ideas on redecorating. Linda is pushy and assertive, chiding Michelle on spending time on her mobile phone and focusing too much on work with judgemental “your generation” talk, while Michelle is so mild-mannered and polite, and afraid of offending Linda, that she makes the dire mistake of reluctantly going to her home. It becomes clear quickly that Linda has no intention of letting Michelle ever leave.
Gayne, working from a script that he cowrote with stars Essoe and Chong, has the pacing down pat, and shows that he is just as adept at helming dramatic confrontations and intimate moments as he is at comedy timing and horror set pieces. He is greatly aided by the magnificent performances of his two leads.
Fright fare fans have been aware of Essoe’s top-notch acting talent since Starry Eyes, and she continues to impress with Homewrecker. She has a difficult task in playing the straight role to Chong’s superb portrayal of an unhinged woman who becomes increasingly dangerous, and she does a terrific job. Chong is equally outstanding, playing her villainous role just this side of going over the top. Both women put on a must-see acting clinic as their characters go through a range of emotions, putting on false faces, letting their guards down, and showing their true intentions. The duo’s performances are reason enough to seek out the film, though it is loaded with other rewards.
A sledgehammer that symbolizes an important emotional step for Linda hangs on her wall, hinting at what horrors might lie ahead. The two characters get physical, sometimes played for laughs and other times agonizingly hard to watch.
It’s hard to imagine seeing this year a creepier performance than Chong’s, a more vulnerable and true portrayal of a polite character than Essoe’s, and a more pitch-black comedy than Homewrecker. Add to that a horror scene guaranteed to make most viewers watch it while covering their eyes and peering between their fingers, and you have all the makings of a film destined to be on this reviewer’s year-end top 10 fright flicks list.
Homewrecker screened at Fantasia 2019, which ran in Montreal from
July 11-August 1.
Review by Joseph Perry
Here is the link to Rue Morgue’s exclusive trailer: