A hen pecked husband finds his suburban homestead has turned into a house of horrors when an adulterous encounter unleashes his wife’s dark side in this offbeat chiller that skipped theaters.
One of the reasons I started this column (16 long years ago) was to share the wealth when I stumbled across direct to video diamonds in the rough. We all know that plenty of DVDs(in those days it was mainly VHS)promise compelling stories and lure you in with wonderful cover art . Then you pop them in and find they are half-baked junk . I figured I’d do my part and help steer people away towards the good ones.
These days we have a new challenge. Most movies can’t afford to go the theatrical route so there is much more material going direct to DVD or streaming services .Most rentals are now gambles but you can always turn to the Lagoon for help in these decisions . Sure you could go on-line where a ton of fellow film watchers are more than happy to share their opinions but can you really trust something Al Gore claimed to invent and where users hide behind goofy screen names?
This turns out to be a clever slice of suburban gothic with a healthy dose of dark humor . The movie begins like a Coen Brothers film as we drop in on Don Champagne. We learn he has a thriving furniture business, a beautiful home, and the perfect family. His blonde wife , Mona, is the ultimate house keeper. She also doubles as a life planner who keeps a scrapbook/road map that plots out their lives and goals .
Unfortunately this tome is very exact and doesn’t leave room for much innovation. Everything down to the frequency of their love making is scheduled and Mona sticks to her meticulous plans.
Change comes when Don hires a gorgeous young woman, Dusty, to help at the store. His other employee, Les, is just happy for the eye candy. She is a dynamite sales person. She also appears to have a fondness for Don and she isn’t shy about it. Don is putty in her hands and things go bad in a hurry.
Little does he know that Dusty is part of a gang that plans to take him off. Before you know it she claims to be pregnant and demands money to take care of the future (black market) Champagne. Don struggles with what to do but the gig is up when Mona gets wind of what is going on. Her solution is simple-kill Dusty and then clean up your mess.
Now the tone shifts a bit as the film appears to get hijacked by Eli Roth. The humor is still there but they don’t shy away from the gore as our couple becomes aware of the other members of Dusty’s circle and proceed to eliminate them with ruthless efficiency.
This is a tough balancing act but the film manages to adjust to the crime drama switch before dovetailing back to suburbia for an even darker and more twisted finale as all of this brutal behavior comes home to roost.
It all works thanks to assured direction by Anthony Burns. He also gets plenty of mileage out of a talented cast that includes perfect pitch performances by Jim Belushi ,as Les, and Chi McBride as a droll police chief with a fixation on gardening metaphors. The real standouts are Patrick Wilson as Don and Katherine Heigl in an all systems go turn as Mona. These two manage to sell this concept from the first frame. Heigl ,in particular ,is stunning here and makes for the scariest screen mom since Faye Dunaway rocked a ton of eye shadow in ‘Mommie Dearest.” Great stuff, don’t pass it buy next time you’re perusing titles at your rental emporium of choice.
Best Lines: “Paranoia is just total awareness.”
“We need to fertilize the garden with your hooker.”
Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.