Synopsis: Seeking a new friend, Linda coerces the reserved, deferential Michelle into visiting her home for a spontaneous interior design consultation. Once inside, it quickly becomes clear that Linda has something far more sinister on her mind than throw pillows.
Stars: Precious Chong, Alex Essoe
Director: Zach Gayne
Running Length: 76 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: With titles like Cyber Seduction: His Secret Life, Fatal Honeymoon, Flirting with Forty, and The Bride He Bought Online, Lifetime TV movies were never what you would call subtle. Produced in mass quantities and even generating their own TV network, the Lifetime Television Movie eventually became a genre unto itself. Entertaining for their cheesy soapiness and tabloid-esque tales of infidelity, murder, and secrets of suburbia exposed, even after all these years none of them bothered to tip their hat to acknowledge that they were in on the joke. Instead, we’re treated to movies like Homewrecker which takes the formula of a LTM, turns it on its side, and gives it a few swift kicks in the ribs.
When we first see Linda (Precious Chong, daughter of Tommy Chong) she’s going full tilt through numerous exercise classes and seeming to enjoy it just a little too much. A woman of indeterminate age, she’s the person always a half step behind or the participant less flexible than the rest but giving 10% extra than anyone else in the room. You know the one. We all know the one. Then there’s Michelle (Alex Essoe, Doctor Sleep) who Linda spots in a spin class and strikes up a conversation with after. Guarded and clearly thrown off step by the bubbly blonde, Michelle is talked into stopping by Linda’s house in the hopes she can offer some interior design advice.
Ignoring all signs that Linda’s pushy personality feels a bit intrusive, Michelle finds herself inside Linda’s modest home and that’s when director Zach Gayne has his work cut out for him. Working from a script written by Chong and Essoe (suggesting some of it was scripted and some was…improvised?), the movie takes turns both darkly comic and just plain dark. Surprisingly, the set-up works nicely and the way the film keeps the action centered within the walls of the house makes sense and not just in a cliché movie way. Turns out there’s more to Linda than meets the eye and though experienced watchers of the above-mentioned LTMs will easily guess the main motivation for getting to know Michelle, the finale is satisfying, if tinged with a little sadness.
Micro-budgeted though it may be, this is a quick watch clocking in at a little over an hour. Still, that could be a long time if you didn’t enjoy the people onscreen so it’s a good thing that Essoe and Chong are appealing stars. Essoe was excellent in the underrated horror film Starry Eyes a few years back so it’s been nice to see her pop up in bigger films while maintain her indie roots. This was the first time I’ve seen Chong and truthfully she’s one that has the toughest job keeping the movie going. You have to like Linda just a little bit to stick around when things get rocky and it’s a tribute to her that she keeps you interested for the duration.
If enough eyes got on this one, I could see it becoming a bit of a cult title thanks to its peculiar characters and a strange knack for 80s kitsch (wait until you see the board game Linda forces Michelle to play) that sets it apart from your standard crazy lady psycho flick. There’s more to Homewrecker (and to Linda) than meets the eye and it’s worth the small amount of time it will occupy in your evening.