It probably didn't bode well for new suspense thriller Homecoming that it was the first horror(ish) movie I saw after the incredible Drag Me to Hell. Because even on its best day, there isn't much to recommend this rather unremarkable, by-the-numbers potboiler than a really sweet ballad cover of David Bowie's Modern Love by The Last Town Chorus (which is three years old anyway).
Directed by Morgan J. Freeman, not be confused with that guy who played Easy Reader on The Electric Company, Homecoming is the precious tale of Mike and Elizabeth, college sweethearts who run into trouble in Matt's quaint hometown when his batshit crazy high school girlfriend Shelby kidnaps the new gf and tortures her Kathy Bates-style while the rest of the town spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out where she is.
Mike is played by Matt Long, whom you may know better as the young Johnny Blaze from the Ghost Rider movie. Elizabeth is played by Jessica Stroup, also known as one of the regulars from the new 90210, as well as Claire from the Prom Night remake. And if those credentials are giving you a sinking feeling, it's with good reason.
One of the main issues here is that we don't know enough about Shelby (played by smokin' hot Mischa Barton of The OC) to understand why it is that she is so psychotically crazy about Matt, and willing to do such terrible things to his new love. Maybe this was intended by Freeman and untested screenwriter Katie L. Fetting as a way of creating mystery around her character, but instead it results in one forced situation after another, and characters who come off more as standard tropes than real people.
Freeman's most high-profile project to date has been 2002's direct-to-video sequel to American Psycho, and yes, he did in fact direct an episode of Dawson's Creek back in the day. Maybe that's part of why I couldn't shake the sense that this was a hamfisted attempt to create a psychological thriller for the YouTube generation. And in the process forgetting that what makes a great thriller is engaging characters, genuinely suspenseful situations, and plausible motivations--regardless of the target demo.
In short, Homecoming (set for limited release on July 17) is not an awful movie. Just nothing special. I'd characterize it as the kind of movie a genuine horror freak can comfortably watch with his or her less enthusiastic significant other. But for most of you reading this, I can confidently say it's really nothing to write home about, and there other horror flicks hitting this summer alone that are for more worth catching.
But hey, here's that great Bowie cover, anyway: