Can Evrenol’s Housewife

I wasn’t quite prepared for Can Evrenol’s Housewife, a disarmingly gruesome slow burn horror flick that I went into blindly on purpose. Had I looked it up first I might have seen that Turkish director Evrenol is also responsible for another notoriously fucked up horror called Baskin, which I’ve heard many a rumour about but have been circling for years as I just don’t have the stomach for the heavy stuff like I used to. Anyways I waded into Housewife uninformed and unassuming and, well… it’s quite the fucking experience. It tells of a girl (Clémentine Poidatz) living in Istanbul with her husband, who is troubled by nightmarish dreams of her traumatized youth where she watched her mentally ill mother murder her older sister, for starters. She always feels on the edge of that same mental instability, which is put to the test when she reconnects with an estranged best friend who has become deeply involved with a dangerous doomsday cult, particularly it’s charismatic leader (David Sakurai). The film starts off as an eerie, cerebral, glacial buildup full of terse atmospheric visuals and a truly genius, beautifully spooky musical score but as soon the cult angle barrels into the narrative it gets wild and bloody pretty quick, which is a shocking left turn. The ever present yet unseen threat of something bad turns into a geyser of gore, torn off faces, ruthless umbrella shankings, slimy demonic babies, hooting and hollering insanity of clamouring cult members and a third act that is so far beyond the stratosphere of subtlety that all I could do was laugh with the characters as they succumb to the frenzied, maniacal final beat of the narrative that would be too much if it wasn’t just too damn hilarious in a “throw your hands up and surrender to the shenanigans” type of way. I think I liked the first half of the film more, it feels like the measured, dread soaked first two acts of Rosemary’s Baby in tone and atmosphere, obviously way more R rated, contemporary and balls-out psychosexual than that creaky old classic. And where that one never showed the grisly viscera in person, only ever suggested it, this film shows *everything*, and trust me it ain’t pretty. There’s an ethereal beauty and calculated, delicate menace to the buildup and while the third act fells a tad cluttered, a bit too grotesque in some frames and nothing like the hushed, reverent opening acts, I admired its sheer willingness to plough head on into kinky, perverse, violent sex games and some hysterically over the top Lovecraftian cosmic pandemonium. It’s good, but bring a titanium lined stomach or a Costco orders worth of barf bags because it’s a truly sickening experience, the kind of gross-out Euro erotica shocker madness that most North American audiences just are not used to.

-Nate Hill