August 16, 2013

Homecoming (2009)

Directed by Morgan J. Freeman. Starring Mischa Barton ("Shelby Mercer"), Matt Long ("Mike Donaldson"), Jessica Stroup ("Elizabeth Mitchum"), and Michael Landes ("Billy Fletcher"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (Paramount)
Running time: 01:30:24
Country: USA

Yeah, so I'm not one to typically watch movies like HOMECOMING, but certain circumstances led me to check it out. It's been a few weeks since I watched it. At the time, I was kinda burnt out on movies and was in the mood for some brainless fun in terms of cinema. Something that would require not a lot of intellectual investment and something that I could just enjoy for what it is. During that brief run of mindless films (reviews still pending for some of them), HOMECOMING was one of the titles that caught my eye. And when I say "brainless" and "mindless", it's by no means a knock to the people involved in making these films. What I mean is that I can just shut my brain off and watch these movies. What you see is what you get. HOMECOMING is advertised as a throwback to those "(Blank) from Hell" movies that were popular in the 90s, and that's exactly what it is.

In this film's case, the (Blank) is an ex-girlfriend. Shelby (Mischa Barton from THE O.C.) is a chick who suffers from post-High School blues. She used to be the head cheerleader and dated the captain of the football team. While they never really put an emphasis on it, it would be safe to assume that she was also the Prom Queen. Now she waits tables at a bowling alley and chain-smokes because, you know, smoking is usually a visually indicator of someone being down in the dumps. Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend Mike (the aforementioned captain of the football team) has gone off to college and pursued a relationship with a pretty little gal named Elizabeth.

The film begins at the start of a college break, and the time has come for Mike to take Elizabeth back home to meet his parents for the first time. And of course, while there, Mike has to show face at the homecoming football game. For whatever reason, Shelby is absolutely convinced that Mike is still her boyfriend. The cool thing is - initially anyway - is that you don't really know whether she's as crazy as you think she is, or if she was just the victim of being with a guy who led her on and played with her emotions. It certainly leans in the obvious direction and I'm sure the outcome won't surprise anybody, but there's some interesting psychology there nonetheless.

Without getting into details, the claws come out once Elizabeth is brought into the picture, and Shelby channels her inner Annie Wilkes. Just to give you an idea of what kind of character Mike is: there's a point where Elizabeth goes missing, and his cousin (and local cop) Billy convinces him that she's not worth looking for. Seemingly, Mike believes Billy for a second, which goes to show you how much of a douche he is. Even when it's all said and done and Mike gets into "hero" mode, I still couldn't completely get behind him. Speaking of D-Bags, Billy is the biggest one of them all. As soon as the words "Dude! You need to retire your jersey, bro" (or something along those lines) came out, it made me realize just how far removed I am from anyone in this movie. But hey, the fact that the characters are idiots is part of what makes this movie enjoyable.

At one point, we get one of the worst visual info-dumps I have ever seen in a film. I don't like spoiling movies, but let's just say that it involves an article about poisonous plants (anyone who's seen this will know what I'm talking about). It should be said, one of the selling points for me was Jessica Stroup, who plays Elizabeth. While I can't say that I've been blown away by her acting or that she has a tendency to pick good projects, she's undeniably adorable. As far as Mischa Barton - well, she's not very good in this, but she does eat the hell out of a Ham sandwich in this. Overall HOMECOMING is a typical (Blank) from Hell movie with some cheesy dialogue. It's super campy, arguably tongue-in-cheek, and there are some decent edge-of-your-seat moments towards the end, believe it or not. Outside of one moment of gore, it's a tame film. Also, Mischa's odd performance sort of gives this movie some charm, and, for what it's worth, I kinda like Shelby's back story and the explanation of her motives (outside of obsession and whatnot). I don't know that I'd recommend HOMECOMING, but I certainly didn't hate it and I was never really bored while watching it.

Score: 5.5

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