Pitched halfway between legitimately self-aware slasher camp and—shudder—a sincere relationship thriller, Homecoming hardly seems worth the hour-and-half effort at first. Mike (Matt Long), a former star quarterback with Updike-like wistfulness, returns to his hometown for the titular function with scrawny girlfriend Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup) in tow; an old flame named Shelby (played by Mischa Barton, who turns in the antithesis of her clammy O.C. role) becomes obsessed with eradicating the new lover and reclaiming Mike for herself. The exposition plods along with aching contrivance—the first act telegraphs each character’s backstory with groaningly wordy monologues—until a fortuitous car crash lands Elizabeth in Shelby’s convalescence. From there, it deteriorates into My Best Friend’s Wedding meets Misery with varied success. One can respect the manner in which Shelby’s neurosis—foreshadowed economically in the film’s first half with daintily placed dutch angles—is offered the room to gradually build, but director Morgan J. Freeman puts unwarranted emphasis on character development: The script is too drivel-laden to hold our attention without flourishes of brutality, and rather than satisfying the audience with a dollop of blood now and then, the violence is mostly insinuated until the grand finale. Furthermore, the far-fetched dramatic origins of Shelby’s whacked-out demeanor, when eventually revealed, suggest that rather than being slowly driven insane by the tragic circumstances of her romantic life throughout the narrative, she was more or less already cleaver-crazy before Mike’s return. (Couldn’t this have been parlayed into more poetic sadism than the 15 or so minutes offered?) The characters are so self-absorbed we hardly mourn the battering of their limbs, and even Mike—the unlikely object of obsession—has a face we’d rather see caved in than kissed. Still, the vertiginous zenith of Shelby’s carnage will at least be worth fast-forwarding to when Homecoming hits DVD; the manner in which she pauses to prepare and devour a sandwich post-homicide somehow makes ham-on-the-bone and mayonnaise seem hazardously erotic.
- Animus Films
- 88 min
- Morgan J. Freeman
- Katie L. Fetting, Jake Goldberger, Frank Hannah
- Mischa Barton, Matt Long, Jessica Stroup
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