Review: Home Sweet Hell
PLOT: When a married man begins an affair with his employee, he finds himself in more trouble than he could imagine. Once he is forced to admit to his cold and calculating wife about his fling, she pressures him to take deadly action to save their marriage.
REVIEW: It can be entertaining for an audience to see an actor embrace their reputation, whatever it may be. And with Katherine Heigl playing a difficult and controlling shrew of a wife who will do anything to keep her family together, you can find a moment or two of inspiration. As Mona Champagne, Heigl is cold and calculating, yet somehow there is a serious lack of energy here. What could have been a monstrous villain in the guise of the perfect wife, with the perfect family, is just a caricature that only finds true depravity near the end of the film. It is then where we see what could have been in this deeply, dark comedy that strives to be much more shocking than it ultimately is.
HOME SWEET HELL introduces us to successful furniture salesman Don Champagne (Patrick Wilson). He is handsome, successful and yet he is constantly put down by his vindictive wife Mona (Heigl). When he hires a pretty new saleswoman named Dusty (Jordana Brewster), he finds a little spark in the attractive new hire, one that has long since burn out within his own marriage. Soon, he and the new hire begin a torrid love affair that leads to some serious marital strife. When Dusty announces that she is pregnant, dim bulb Don is forced to admit to his wife about the affair. Mona, frustrated with her weak willed husband, decides that she must take the matter into her own hands with a murderous solution.
This dark comedy has all the right elements that usually make for a winning combination. Patrick Wilson is especially good as the show husband who can't seem to think for himself. And Jordana Brewster is absolutely lovely as the sexy new employee with an eye for Don. And even Katherine Heigl is perfectly cast in the ironic beast of a wife role. You have to give her props for entertaining her reputation and stepping into this type of character. In a supporting role as Dusty's sometimes badass boyfriend, Kevin McKidd is having a blast, along with A.J. Buckley who plays his brother. Yet with all this on-screen talent, this comedic look at murder, marriage and betrayal is only occasionally funny and oftentimes a little dull.
Director Anthony Burns tries his best with the material he has, yet the script fails to enliven what could have been a hilarious black comedy. With very few surprises, the very predictable situation plays out until the better than expected finale. In fact, it isn't until the last twenty minutes or so where this thing lives up to its bloody intriguing promise. With a fair amount of gore, and a decidely game Heigl doing some downright horrific things, this should have been a more engaging hour and forty minutes. Frankly, the brightest spot in the first hour consists of the lovely Ms. Brewster who has a bit of fun as the sexy homewrecker - it is nice to see her step outside of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS franchise for a bit of a change.
While Heigl is well cast, there is something about her performance that can never quite reach the cinimatic insanity of say Kathleen Turner in SERIAL MOM or even Kim Walker in HEATHERS - both are superior films. This is not to say that she isn't good, but much like her character, her work seems far too calculated to really generate any real depth. That said, once Mona finds herself spiraling downward, especially at her child's birthday party, she seems to enjoy the insanity. It is in that last half hour where we really this flick seems to begin to work. To see just how wild Mona and her desire for a perfect family can be could have worked far better than it does.
HOME SWEET HELL offers a bit of promise, yet just doesn't quite reach the level of morbid humor it is aiming for. The cast is good enough, especially the always reliable Wilson and Brewster, yet it is not enough to really create the humor needed to make it work. While not a great film, the fact that Heigl is taking a chance with this role is a step in the right direction for the actress. If only the script went a little darker and delved a little deeper into this very promising story. HOME SWEET HELL is best viewed in the comfort of your own home on late night cable.