JULY 18, 2009
Define irony: A film is made for teens and the youngest person in the crowd is a 29 year old guy with gray hair. Such is the sad fate of Homecoming, an independent “horror” film (teen thriller) that was released on two screens this weekend; its only press stemming from the fact that Mischa Barton apparently would rather kill herself than attend the film’s premiere. After sitting through it, I can’t say I blame her.
OK, to be fair, I’m sure the poor lass has other problems than appearing in a really lousy horror movie, but it certainly can’t help any. This is the worst kind of bad movie - the type that rolls along on rails, neither good enough to enjoy or bad enough to entertain. If credited screenwriter Katie L. Fetting was actually some acronym for a script producing robot, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. From the awkwardly structured scene near the beginning where our hero, driving a car, stops to let his girlfriend talk to her ex, to the final shot where our villain opens her eyes to assure us that she’ll be back for more (and that the film retains its strict policy on nothing interesting happening), nothing in this movie could be accused of being interesting or exciting. Christ, newborn infants can probably put the entire film together from its underwhelming trailer.
There are precisely three good moments in the entire film. In the first, director Morgan J. Freeman (the young independent one, not the older, granddaughter-fucking one) takes a shot from Halloween, as the film’s only likable character (played by Final Destination 2's Michael Landes) pulls a Sam Loomis and turns his head at the exact wrong time and misses seeing the very car he’s looking for driving past in the background. In the second, a crazed Barton swings an axe at a phone to prevent Jessica Stroup from making a 911 call, and then cuts her own leg when she pulls the axe out and dangles it by her side. It doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, but it’s an odd little moment nonetheless.
The third is the best though. Throughout the repetitive film, Stroup tries to escape (the film as a whole is sort of Misery meets Fatal Attraction, complete with broken feet) and Barton catches her. During the 3rd or 4th such sequence, Stroup manages to get out to her car, which is locked. In a panic, she sets off the car alarm, which just tells Barton where she is. Barton approaches her, and then digs into the pocket that Stroup is wearing, which has the car keys that Stroup neglected to look for. It’s nice to see such a generic scene have a new punchline. I also like to think that Stroup had seen all of the movies that this film was stealing from, and figured there was no way in hell the keys would be accessible.
I’d like to talk about Stroup for a minute. She’s fucking hot and a fun presence, but she keeps making bad movies (or TV shows). Can someone please get her a decent movie please? I may have been kinder than most to Hills 2 and Prom Night, but like Tiffany Shepis, I’m sick of saying “she is the only reason this movie isn’t Crap”. Hell, put em in a movie together. What hasn’t been remade yet...
Besides the generic-ness of it all, the real reason the movie fails is that it refuses to take any chances. It’s going out “unrated”, but the MPAA could probably be convinced to give this a PG if the filmmakers thought the rightful PG-13 would be too harsh. Mischa drops an F bomb and shoots (largely off camera) the guy you know is dead right from the start, because he’s the hero’s best buddy who has a thing for her. That’s it. She doesn’t die (again, her eyes OPEN! at the end), and despite having no reason to keep Stroup alive, she barely inflicts any harm on her (the foot injury was caused by the initial car accident, Barton merely makes it worse). Even after she kills the other guy in plain view of Stroup, Barton doesn’t bother to kill her. Why? She also keeps all of the incriminating evidence about the death of her mother (Barton poisoned her with some sort of plant mixture) in the house, complete with photographs depicting her slow demise that were taken for no reason other than for Stroup to find them I guess.
The fact that this thing is an independent film is the real shocker. You hear “indie horror” and you assume it’s got something that was too harsh for a big studio to ever dare to release. But Christ, even the theatrical cut (PG-13, in case you forgot) of Prom Night itself was more vicious, not to mention more mean-spirited (the death of her boyfriend was pretty harsh, as was the stabbing of her mother). I guess it’s nice to know that even the little guys are capable of making generic crap that panders to the CW crowd, but it doesn’t make me any less annoyed at spending 7 bucks (matinee, thank Christ) to find out.
Speaking of money, the most appalling thing that occurred during my time at the cinema was not on screen, but in the crowd. A few minutes into the film, a homeless woman entered the theater and took a seat. A guy who looked like an insufferable prick anyway instantly stood up and went out into the lobby, yelling “There’s a homeless woman in there!”. Now, this particular theater only has one entrance, manned by the ticket ripper. For someone to get into an actual screening room, you have to pass the box office, the ticket taker, and at least two concession stand employees. Not to mention, this woman wasn’t exactly svelte, and had her giant luggage roller thingie with her. In short - there’s no way in hell she “snuck in” - she clearly bought a ticket same as everyone else. And had Doucheface McFucknuts considered this before standing up and causing more of a disturbance than the woman did, he could have saved himself a walk and me a paragraph. Not that I can blame him for using any excuse to skip a few minutes of the film, but come on man. She’s a human being too, and if she wants to spend her panhandling money on a shitty movie, let her.
You’d really have to go out of your way to see this thing in theaters, so I won’t bother trying to dissuade you from that. Just make sure you aren’t fooled when it comes on DVD with a new cover, glamour shots of the attractive stars, and a big ol’ UNRATED! tag that will attempt to make you think you’re getting anything BUT a ball-less bore.
What say you?