In 2015, Turkish filmmaker Can Evrenol created a bit of a buzz (first in Turkey and later in the rest of the world) with Baskin, a surreal yet scary and disturbing horror film.
Although this is the type of movie that people who don’t like to read subtitles would avoid, it’s also one that grew a solid fan base, which I’m definitely part of. Obviously, when a good pal of mine (Kieron) told me Evrenol’s next movie, Housewife, was out, I couldn’t wait to check it out.
Housewife opens with little Molly’s sister being killed by their mother, who also murders the dad as he comes home from work. Years later, Molly (Clementine Poidatz) lives an apparently normal life with her husband, even though that accident still gives her problems. One day, Valery – an old friend of the couple – pays a visit and invites them to join a party where cult leader Bruce O’Hara will reveal some ineludible truth to Molly. In fact, Valery belongs to a scientology-like cult that Molly’s mother was part of as well. That night will change Molly’s life, as well as the life of millions of other people.
As if this premise wasn’t crazy enough, the whole film features an odd, surreal tone. It’s not just the mesmerising, Argento-esque visuals, but also tiny details in the way the characters behave that give Housewife an awkward vibe. As the plot keeps thickening and becomes more confusing as the minutes go by, the strangeness of this picture becomes both annoying and captivating at the same time.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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This is a very ambitious project and, as such, Evrenol falls into some traps. For example, this is a Turkish movie, with Turkish and international actors, set in Istanbul, but the script was written in English, the dialogues are in English all the time. This choice, probably made to make the movie more marketable for American audiences, caused the performances to be all-around wooden and unconvincing. This is really a shame, since I believe the casting would have been on spot if only the actors were allowed to speak their own language.
Also, some of the characters seemed extremely cartoonish. This might have to do with their forceful English dialogue and interaction, but some of the most gruesome and disturbing sequences get ruined because you’re trying not to chuckle during the confrontations. Don’t get me wrong, as a person who speaks English with a thick and ridiculous Italian accent I wouldn’t dare to poke fun to others for this reason. I’m just saying that, were I behind the camera, I’d have my actors speaking their mother tongue in order to convey emotions better.
Yet, similarly to Baskin, Housewife suggests there’s an underlying message that goes underneath the surface. But, like in Baskin, the bigger meaning of the film might have gone over my head (at the end of the review there will be a spoiler-filled paragraph to explain its possible meaning).
Despite the flaws and the fact that the movie ultimately fails in what it was trying to achieve, Housewife is not a bad movie by a long shot.
To me, the most remarkable aspect of it is the visuals: the movie looks great due to fantastic use of locations and oversaturated lights, which, in combination with a perfectly fitting, hellish soundtrack just gives you an uneasy feeling. Other than that, the scenes of violence and gore are truly well-done (save for the shaky acting) and, for some, might be extremely disturbing. The ending, as well as the opening scene, are simply great.
And that’s why Housewife frustrated me quite a bit: there are seeds of a masterpiece here, somewhere. Unfortunately, their buried underneath a few feet of shaky acting, pretentious (even though I hate this word) concepts and confusing storyline.
HOUSEWIFE (TURKEY, 2018) – ENDING EXPLAINED (SPOILERS)
At the end of the film, the cult leader impregnates Molly, who gives birth straight away to a demonic creature and she’s shown – a la The Lion King – lifting up the baby towards the sky. Then, the sky becomes red and cloudy, with giant tentacles popping out of the clouds, as to symbolise that the end of the world (our world) is approaching. That’s what I got from Housewife: a lady is chosen by a satanic/demonic cult to give birth to an entity which is kind of a getaway for a monster to invade our world. According to some interviews to the director, however, it seems he wanted to focus on the decay of sexuality, values and costumes of our society, but even he sounds a bit generic in his statements. So, in conclusion, what we see in the last few scenes might be a metaphor for the end of our world in terms of values and morals.
What did you guys get from this film? What’s your interpretation of the ending?