Friday, July 17, 2009

"Homecoming" a Silly Teen Thriller

By Michael Rechtshaffen

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Echoes of Stephen King's "Misery" reverberate not so subtly in "Homecoming," an unmitigated B-movie that isn't thrilling enough or cheesy enough to make it worth the trip.

Although "O.C." party girl Mischa Barton makes for convincing damaged goods, director Morgan J. Freeman (no relation to the Oscar-winning actor) commits to neither sufficient suspense nor a substantial camp element to warrant a big-screen stopover en route to what should be a quick trip to DVD. The indie release opens Friday.

Barton plays the brittle Shelby, the proverbial homecoming queen destined to live happily ever after with the high school star quarterback.

Only hitch is, said prodigal son, Mike (Matt Long), has returned to his blue-collar hometown for Christmas break, having received a scholarship to Northwestern University, and he's brought along his new gf, pretty, rich girl Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup).

To say Shelby isn't taking the situation well is an understatement, and, as fate would have it, a freak accident leaves Elizabeth incapacitated and in Shelby's questionable care.

Although the stage is neatly set for some Grand Guignol-style ax-wielding, Freeman never manages to impart much in the way of visual style or energy to the heavily derivative script, credited to Jake Goldberger, Katie Fetting and Frank M. Hannah.

As Barton gets in touch with her inner Bette Davis circa "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Stroup, a regular on the new "90210," effectively is grounded as her hobbled houseguest, but ultimately the young cast gets tripped up in the ensuing silliness.

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