Toronto After Dark 2019: Homewrecker (2019) – Zach Gayne

Toronto After Dark brings another Canadian film into their Film Festival with Zach Gayne’s Homewrecker, starring Precious Chong and Alex Essoe, and pairing these two actors on screen brings this somewhat familiar premise to an electric conclusion.

Essoe is Michelle, a young millenial in a marriage she’s unsure of with the hopes of building a family to help cement it. She keeps active, and takes a number of classes, and in each of them is Chong’s Linda, a Gen Xer, who reminds us fellow Xers tgat we aren’t as young as we think we are.

Before I go further, let’s just talk about Chong’s performance. As things get underway, you know there is something a little off about Linda, and Chong makes the character incredibly unnerving, but as the story doles itself out, despite her behavior, Chong imbues her with a measure of sympathy. It’s a fine balance, and she does it well.

In a ‘chance’ meeting at a coffee ship, Linda meets Michelle, who is working at her interior design business. Michelle, one to avoid confrontation, goes along with the conversation, and ends up agreeing to take a look at Linda’s home with an eye to designing it for her.

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Once there, things become more troubling as Michelle is taken through her home, and despite wanting to, finds herself unable to leave.

What follows is two women of two different generations unable to understand one another’s worlds, though they both want the same thing. One is starting her life, the other is floundering, recalling her glory days, and attempting to hold on to her youth with attitudes, board games, a lonely room, and even her apparel.

With no instagram, snapchat, or selfies, the pair have to talk, as captor and prisoner, as women… but with the threat of violence hanging in the air the entire time as the two personalities clash leading to Michelle’s growth, and revelations for Linda, all serving as a precursor to a final physical clash between the two.

This is where the film stumbles, just a little, the verbal clashing is so electric between the two actors, that the physical confrontation has to equal or top that, and it falls a little short and doesn’t play quite so well as it could. There is a threat there, but because of how it is portrayed, it almost seems comedic, until the final few minutes of the film.

Coming in at a brisk hour and fifteen minutes this one features a great turn by Chong, and Essoe proves she is more than Chong’s equal going toe to toe with her in some very well-crafted dialogue.

A tightly crafted emotional thriller that puts Chong’s Linda in a class with Kathy Bates’ Annie Wilkes. Take a look at this one tonight at the Toronto After Dark film festival, and I’ll see you After Dark!

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