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Housewife (Movie Review)

Housewife (Movie Review)
6 10

PLOT: A married woman with a tragic past has a life-changing encounter with a cult.

REVIEW: If director Can Evrenol's film HOUSEWIFE has anything going for it, it's the cinematography by Tayman Tekin, which calls to mind the color-soaked imagery Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA or of films by Argento's fellow Italian filmmaker Mario Bava. Many of the scenes in HOUSEWIFE are bathed in a beautiful blue lighting, or a pleasant amber, or a harsh red. Even when things aren't colorful, the images captured by Tekin still look wonderful. This is a very pretty film to look at, despite the horrific and grotesque subject matter.

HOUSEWIFE also has one of the most disturbing opening sequences I have seen in recent memory. It begins with two young sisters having a conversation in their bedroom that is interrupted when the older of the two has her first period. Their mother has a very unexpected reaction to this event; she freaks out and proceeds to drown her daughter in the toilet... and when the younger girl witnesses the murder, things get even more out-of-control, and blood is shed.

Jump ahead a couple decades and the younger girl has grown up to be the housewife of the title, Holly Erguvan (played by Clémentine Poidatz). Understandably, Holly has been left with some serious issues. She becomes ill in the presence of children, she refuses to urinate in a toilet (the film doesn't address how she handles #2), and she has flashbacks to the night when her mother went on a murderous rampage. Yet she apparently hides her issues from her husband Timucin (Ali Aksöz) quite well, because as far as he's concerned they're working on having a child. He doesn't know Holly is still taking birth control pills.

Things get even weirder when Valery (Alicia Kapudag), a woman who used to live with Holly and Timucin, comes back into their lives and invites them to a special gathering of members of the Umbrella of Love and Mind, a cult that's described as being "like Scientology" and believes the apocalypse will be arriving soon. The cult is headed up by David Sakurai as Bruce O'Hara, a charming guy who describes himself as "a dream surfer", takes the stage dancing to KC and the Sunshine Band and, in his private time, likes to do martial arts exercises in the nude like William Sadler in DIE HARD 2.

Bruce is drawn to Holly in the crowd, he places a hand on her head so he can get a glimpse into her mind and soul... and the colorful lighting isn't the only thing Evrenol lifted from Italian films when putting HOUSEWIFE together, because from the moment Bruce and Holly touch the film fully takes on the sort of "dream logic" that is so common in Italian genre movies. Soon she can't tell the different between her dreams and reality - a fact that is directly called out in the dialogue. "Where are you? In a dream again?" "I don't know." "No. You're lost in a maze now."

The dialogue certainly helps the film achieve that not-quite-reality feeling. After making his feature debut with the Turkish-language film BASKIN, Evrenol and his co-writer Cem Özüduru decided to make their second film in English, but the lines they wrote don't sound natural - even less so because they're being spoken by actors whose first language wasn't English. Poidatz is French, Aksöz is Turkish (they don't say why a French woman and her Turkish husband communicate only in English), David Sakurai is from Denmark and also lived in Japan, etc. Some of the cast members handle English better than others, but there's plenty of stilted dialogue awkwardly delivered through accents.

I could appreciate the strangeness of HOUSEWIFE and the style of the film, but movies do tend to lose me once they reach a point where nothing makes sense and they're just jumping in and out of dreamland (without Freddy around to liven things up). That happened here, as I got tired of watching Holly drift through dreams and memories and started getting anxious for the film to wrap up well before it did. There was also way too much time in this movie when there was nothing much of interest happening on the screen. Thankfully, it's only 82 minutes long, but there's much less than 82 minutes worth of substance packed in between the beginning and end.

If you like your horror deeply weird and nice to look at, HOUSEWIFE is worth a viewing. In the end, it wasn't really for me, but I'm glad I saw it, and I hope to see Tayman Tekin go on to do some more dazzling work on films I enjoy more than this one.

HOUSEWIFE hits VOD and DVD on October 2nd.
Extra Tidbit: RLJE Films will be releasing HOUSEWIFE on VOD, Digital, and DVD on October 2nd.

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