Directed by Morgan J. Freeman
In this mildly entertaining teen slasher, Mischa Barton stars as Shelby, a crazy ex-girlfried who tries to sabotage her former boyfriend Mike's new relationship by holding his girlfriend hostage. Shelby and Mike had enjoyed a typical small-town romance: he was the high school football star, she was the resident hottie. But, when Mike left for Northwestern University in the fall, it came at a bad time for Shelby, whose mother had recently died from cancer. Now, upon Mike's return home with his Abercrombie-wearin', luxury-car-drivin', monogrammed-luggage-totin' new girlfriend, Shelby — who thought she and Mike were still together — is out for blood.
To those readers who enjoy a bit of blood splatter and think the first season of The O.C. was exquisite, this premise probably sounds ridiculously amazing. And it is — to a certain extent, though Homecoming falls short of so-terrible-it's-entertaining territory. Much of the beginning is comprised of a series of events, each more implausible than the next, which land the new girlfriend in Shelby's creepy dead mother's bedroom with a debilitating ankle injury. After that, the principle plot mechanism is the girlfriend's half-baked escape attempts and the painful punishments she incurs from Barton when she inevitably fails. The entertaining parts of most horror movies — gore, suspense, jumpy surprises — are curiously absent or aesthetically sloppy (bone crunches sound exactly like celery being snapped in half). At some point, however, after the third or fourth escape attempt, Barton starts to get really pissed and really crazy. This is when the movie gets good. I don't want to reveal too much, but I will say that someone's achilles tendons get sliced with gardening shears and that, later, Barton rips off pieces of meat from a leftover rump of pork to make a post-kill sandwich.
The film also hyperbolizes a classic horror trope which pits the upper middle class against the "silent majority" of rural, small-town America. Mike's return home essentially sparks a battle between his trashy past, Shelby, and his sparkling upper-class future, the new girlfriend. In this battle, Shelby, like a backwoods witch, uses prescription meds and household items to subdue her enemy while the new girlfriend, helpless without her cellphone, ends up using Mike's football helmet, a symbol of the scholarship which propels his upward mobility, to bludgeon Shelby.
It was true of The O.C. and it's true of Homecoming: whenever Mischa Barton goes completely off the rails, it's fun for everyone. It takes a while for her character to get to that point and I wouldn't say it's entirely worth enduring the first half of the movie. But, if you bring the right friends and a full flask it might be a really terrific way to spend a Thursday night.
Opens July 17