Homecoming review

:. Director: Morgan J. Freeman
:. Starring: Mischa Barton, Matt Long
:. Running Time: 1:28
:. Year: 2009
:. Country: USA

In the tradition of B-movie drive-in subculture cinema, Morgan J. Freeman's low rent thriller, Homecoming, is a darkly giddy little romp of a film that in many ways works on such a level, even despite (or perhaps in spite of) its rather run-of-the-mill story and direction. Part Fatal Attraction, part Misery, Homecoming is a potpourri of genre cliches that manages to snap, crackle and pop (or is that snip, slice and slash?) through its myriad of weaknesses. In essence, Homecoming is a breath of fresh...

Okay, I've got to stop here. I can't go on with a straight face any longer. My attempt at the mocking, winking humor director Freeman has encased his film in — the faux lovey-dovey affectations of his lead maniac, the jilted ex-girlfriend — just cannot hold up under the weight of such a disastrous work of fiction as is the filmmaker's quite heinous Homecoming. Sure, it is the veritable potpourri of genre cliches I say it is — borrowing/stealing from just about every film of its ilk that has come before. Sure, it is a darkly giddy romp. I laughed throughout, but then this is not billed as comedy is it? Sure, it snaps, crackles and pops (or snips, slices and slashes) but that is on sheer audacity alone. Sure, it is in the tradition of the B-movie drive-in subculture cinema, but in no way does it reach the camp heights of such films as those of Roger Corman, Mario Bava, Russ Meyer, Ed Wood or John Waters. In essence, Homecoming is a ridiculous array of everything imaginable, all piled into one gigantic mess of a movie. Not so funny anymore, huh?

As far as story goes — and it really goes nowhere — Homecoming is, at the very heart of it all, the tale of love gone waaaay bad. Former TV debutante and tabloid bad girl Barton plays Shelby, a small town girl who, in lieu of college, runs the family restaurant/bowling alley/bar ever since her mother died. She is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her high school sweetheart Mike who is returning home to have his jersey retired by the high school football team where he was the star quarterback. This is his first trip back home since leaving for college and Shelby cannot wait for her boyfriend to be back in her arms. The only problem? Mike and Shelby broke up before he left for college and now Mike is returning home with his new girlfriend in town. It is here that we first realize Shelby is indeed quite kookoo for Coco Puffs.

Once Shelby (even her name smacks of small town white trash) kidnaps Mike's new girl and imprisons her in the bedroom where her sick old mother has recently died, the film settles into a drab middlebrow expectance that is unforgiving in its pedestrian manner. At this point, we see that this is not going to be any sort of revelatory filmgoing experience (I had felt wisps of potential building right away, but alas...) and we too settle into a drab middlebrow expectance. Bland storytelling and filled with the most ordinary of actors — though Barton does have some semblance of midnight movie sex appeal — Homecoming only sinks into its own generic mire, never to surface again.

Freeman's film does have potential, if only for its kitsch value, but the director never takes advantage of the inherent campiness of his film, instead opting to play it all too straight. A certain wink or nod to the audience, saying that this is all just fun and games, would give the film more of a camp value. It may not make the film any better, but it would make it a bit more enjoyable in some strange way. Altogether though, Freeman's direction, his use of over-tired genre cliche, his seeming obliviousness to the giddy secrets hidden inside his agenda and the use of the totally humorless Barton combine to create one tiresome would-be late night cult flick. Too bad really.

  Kevyn Knox

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