Well Patrick Wilson, last we met we had quite the falling out over Let’s Kill Ward’s Wife. We fell out because you help to make one of the worst films ever vomited onto the screen and I, I Mr. Wilson had to watch it. So when Home Sweet Hell popped up, it’s cover adorned with Wilson looking meek stood behind a grinning (slight wretch) Katherine Heigl carrying a lazy pun-tatstic my initial thought was “shit”. I sighed heavily as the DVD player loaded it up.
Wilson plays Don Champagne – yes I know! – a home furnishings salesman who is married to Katherine Heigl’s Mona. Mona (much like Ward’s Wife) is one of those characters that only exists in film land. A complete melting pot of annoying/sociopathic tendencies that around 5 or 6 people may slightly have in different forms. But for the purposes of this story all these traits are crammed right in there to make her some kind of monster. In short… she’s hard work.
Jordana Brewster’s Dusty starts working at Don’s store and soon the two embark on affair that sees him go through an American Beauty style renaissance. Once she falls pregnant the affair is revealed to be a blackmailing scam by Dusty and a gang of no-goods (which inexplicably feature Kevin McKidd in a small supporting role). Once Don reveals all this to his wife the sensible thing is to of course kill Dusty and frame the gang for murder. Oh and Jim Belushi is also there for some reason, doing exactly what you would expect Jim Belushi to do.
So it’s not a million miles away from Ward’s Wife territory. This time though the horrible monster is the one doing the killing. Indeed the there’s still the issue of Mona and Don planning to kill Dusty, even though they think she’s pregnant for laughs doesn’t sit well. But overall I didn’t hate this film. In fact a part of me enjoyed it. There’s not laughs galore but I smirked a few times. Wilson is by no means off the hook for Ward’s Wife but there were glimmers in there that reminded me why I liked him to begin with. Heigl in fact is quite good in it. I confess I’m usually in the camp of people who find her an irritating presence (word has it that’s the general consensus) but here her persona of being difficult works for her as Mona could in fact be a grossly exaggerated version of Heigl herself.
Director Anthony Burns’s keeps the action rollicking along in a way that elevates the film from throwaway Katherine Heigl comedy to something approaching a Roger Corman-eqsue thriller. As the plot gears up the violence becomes increasingly nasty and situation absurd. Just look at the picture above, she’s got a samurai sword. There’s certainly an element of wish fulfilment to the proceedings. Not that you yourself may want to murder someone who’s done you wrong but purely in the film world as an audience member, the right people get what’s coming to them.
All this gushing aside it should be said that this is by no means a great film. There’s only a handful of laughs, some of the performances a bit over the top and a couple of the characters I pure plot devices. That being said though I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it in the end. Unexpectedly dark in places, the film’s climax itself verges on disturbing with a on-screen couple who were not nearly as horrible as they could have been. Home Sweet Hell was a breath of fresh air.
3/5 (I’m surprised myself)
Dir: Anthony Burns
Scr: Carlo Allen, Ted Elrick, Tom Lavagino
Starring: Katherine Heigl, Patrick Wilson, Jordana Brewster, Jim Belushi
Prd: A.J. Buckley, Anthony Burns, Jeff Culotta, Sean McKittrick
DOP: David Hennings
Run time: 98 mins
Home Sweet Hell is available on DVD now via Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.