|Paramount || R - 90 minutes - $22.98 || April 20, 2010|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-04-05|
Writer(s): Katie L. Fetting (written by)
Cast: Mischa Barton, Matt Long, Jessica Stroup
Theatrical Release Date: July 17, 2009
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Mike (MATT LONG) is coming back to his hometown where is regarded as a hero and where his jersey number will be retired. He’s also brought along girlfriend Elizabeth (JESSICA STROUP) to meet his parents but Mikey has a problem: ex-girlfriend Shelby (MISCHA BARTON) still believes they are a couple. What seemed like a friendly night of fun and games for Mike, Elizabeth and Shelby soon turns south.
After taking in several tequila shots served up by Shelby, Elizabeth doesn’t want her first impression with Mike’s parents to be of her in a drunken stupor so she decides to check into a hotel... which had no rooms left. With no one to call (no cell phone service) and the nearest hotel 4 miles away, she makes the trek in pitch darkness when she gets hit by a car, driven by a heartbroken Shelby. When she discovers who she hit, she saw an opportunity.
Elizabeth wakes up in Shelby’s house hooked up to an IV with a broken ankle and no recollection of what happened. What at first looked like Shelby helping her to recover, Elizabeth realizes that she is being held captive and Shelby will do anything to keep her away from Mike. Despite escape attempts, Elizabeth cannot get far and for Mike, he begins to believe Elizabeth may have skipped town.
Homecoming actually isn’t a bad movie for a low-budget psycho suspense/thriller, but it also felt more like a TV movie than anything. The story isn’t too bad, if not predictable, but the screenplay had some issues with exactly what to do after Elizabeth is kidnapped, almost as if the script needed some extra tension especially on Mike’s side, but only a little because the film is more about the Shelby/Elizabeth main story than anything else.
However, despite some issues with the script (not to mention shoddy editing during the final scene, don’t want to give it away since it would be a major spoiler) and after a slow start, I do think it’s filled with great tension leading to the climax. First, my problem with the opening, it just felt awkward. Obviously they can’t afford to add more time to develop the Mike/Shelby relationship but perhaps a short sequence about their relationship followed by a time lapse would’ve helped it a bit.
Outside of the few tense-filled scenes, the real highlight isn’t Mischa Barton, though she fills the psycho/obsessed ex-girlfriend just fine, but it’s a great performance by Jessica Stroup. She is probably, on a character level, the only reason to see the movie. It’d be easy to just play the kidnapped victim but she does a great job with what could’ve been a limited part. Stroup has previously appeared in The Hills Have Eyes II, Prom Night and the new “90210” television series. I can’t wait to see how she does as she could have a good career going for her.
The rest of the cast are fine. Matt Long gets to play the pouty boyfriend and spends much of the movie going from being concerned to pissed to disgusted. Not a lot of range but with a limited part with really nothing to do until later on, I’ll give him a pass. His role in Ghost Rider, no matter how short, I cannot forgive, however...
Homecoming was directed by Morgan J. Freeman – American Psycho II – and was written by Katie Fetting who had previously written the 2004 Elizabeth Hurley/Jeremy Sisto thriller, Method.
Although Homecoming probably could’ve used a few more drafts to expand the back story a little more, but I will say I was quite still quite surprised at how effective the movie was. Sure, it’s similar to the recently released Obsessed and takes more than one cue from the devious dark, dark, dark comedy Misery. I can’t give it a full recommendation but I think when it eventually gets released on DVD, it’s well worth your time.
The only feature on the disc are 5 deleted scenes (8:16) that don’t add much plus some previews for other Paramount titles.
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Homecoming is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.77 aspect ratio. The picture isn’t anything amazing, even by comparison to other standard definition releases, but I didn’t notice much in the way of dust, scratches or other flaws especially pixelization. I did notice some edge ghosting (not sure if I’d call it edge enhancement) from time to time, but it’s nothing distracting.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is inconsistent beginning with an opening scene in which Barton’s character hits someone and the bass shakes the floor and the audio is fairly loud to a football scene only a few minutes later that sounds too soft. On the other hand, the dialogue levels are good while sound effects and the score make effective use of the other channels.
Homecoming may not break new ground in the ex-girlfriend goes psycho sub-genre, but it is pretty good in its own right especially for a low budget film. Mischa Barton does a decent job playing the psycho while Jessica Stroup does her best (and succeeds) in what is usually a thankless role, the kidnapped damsel who can only wince, scream and cry.
Don’t go in expecting too much but if you like Barton and/or Stroup, you might find this to be a reasonable rental or, down the line, cheap purchase. The audio and video are both above average for a DVD while the features are pretty sad.