Fantasia is host to a slew of diverse cinematic offerings, some pushing the boundaries of what is possible with the genre, and others, like Homewreckers, opting for a minimalistic, indie style to convey their message. A relatively small film, Homewreckers works with its smaller budget to tell a story of toxicity, obsession, and jealousy.
Set in a nondescript North American city (Toronto), young interior designer Michelle (Alex Essoe) finds herself at the centre of an obsessive wannabe friend named Linda (Precious Chong). After a chance encounter at a coffee shop, she becomes locked into a dangerous game for her safety and survival. Through struggles with insane board games, boy talk, and vengeance, she must work to survive and escape Linda’s clutches.
Precious Chong steals the show as Linda. Her deranged, over the top performance, paints a picture of someone teetering on the edge of sanity. As her obsession manifests throughout the runtime of the film, her pain, loss, and anger become more clear. She wants what she believes life has deprived her of and will take out anyone that stands in her way.
Jealousy and obsession are the roots of Homewreckers. As the story unfolds, these emotions tear at the psyche and dismantle the stability we all like to think we live within. Linda is a person tormented by regret and lost in a sea of her own madness, and while we are seeing her at a snapshot in her life, the film provides hints to her past and the progress she has made to get to this point.
Aesthetically, Homewreckers is a bit awkward. The budget and low production values at times hide what could be an engaging story. Blocking, set design, and editing, while serviceable, can be a struggle to watch. While never reaching The Room levels of incompetence, there are many scenes that with the proper budget could have delivered the story in more engaging and suspenseful ways.
Homewreckers is a story of politeness taken too far. It is an inherently Canadian story that outlines how modern society’s inability to walk away or be upfront can lead to trouble. At the beginning of the film, Michelle is trapped in her own politeness; she wants to ensure everyone around her is happy while at the same time letting her troubles, stresses, and insecurities overwhelm her. It is as much a story about Michelle coming to terms with herself as it is a descent into madness for Linda.
Even the extras and neighbours in the film play with the Canadian concept of politeness, entering the film but never engaging in the action beyond pleasantries. Acting kind to avoid real human interaction is an artifice. It is poignant and menacing at the same time. It firmly plants Homewreckers as a truly Canadian work and one where many of the nuances would be lost outside the borders.
There is a lot to enjoy in Homewreckers. Sadly, it is hampered by its own limitations. This is a story that is as relatable as it is horrifying, yet it can’t help feeling awkward throughout. Jealousy and obsession are universal concepts, but with odd choices in blocking, cinematography, and performance, these ideas never fully become manifest. Despite these issues, Homewreckers is a fun watch that is worthy of attention.