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Mike (Matt Long) is a small-town star athlete who is the first in his family to attend college, receiving a football scholarship to prestigious Northwestern University. When he returns home over Christmas break to the people he left behind - his family and friends - they are all surprised to see him with a new girlfriend, Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup), a pretty rich girl from Chicago. No one is more shocked than Mike's homecoming queen ex-girlfriend, Shelby (Mischa Barton), who immediately wants to be rid of Elizabeth and plots to take care of the problem. Our story takes many twists and turns as Shelby does everything it takes to get Mike back.
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Away at college, Mike Donaldson (Matt Long), a former football star, is planning to return to his hometown, because his high school is retiring his old jersey number during the homecoming game. His current girlfriend Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup, The Hills Have Eyes 2 (Unrated Edition)) will be coming along, and meeting his family for the first time.
Mike`s former girlfriend Shelby Mercer (Mischa Barton, Walled In), owner of "The Alley" a financially troubled bowling alley, is still in love with him. When Mike drops by The Alley, Shelby wants to take up where they left off, and doesn't take the news that their relationship is over very well. Apparently Shelby has a change of heart, as she becomes very cordial to Elizabeth, plying her with drinks. When it's time to leave, Elizabeth doesn't want to meet Mike's family drunk, so Mike's cousin police officer Billy Fletcher (Michael Landes), drops her off at a motel. When she finds that the motel is full, Elizabeth ends up walking along the road headed for the closest motel, where she is accidentally hit by a truck driven by Shelby.
When Elizabeth wakes up, she is in a bed in Shelby's house, with an IV in her arm. Amazingly after being hit headlong by a truck, her most serious injury is a broken leg. Shelby gained her medical experience from nursing her sick mother, and apparently plans to keep Elizabeth out of circulation long enough to try and get back with Mike. With remarkable ease, Mike and most of those concerned attribute Elizabeth's disappearance to anxiety about meeting Mike's family. Meanwhile, Shelby takes increasingly stronger measures to keep Elizabeth a prisoner in her home.
Once things head down the kidnapping path, there isn't too much wiggle room for how things may end up, and the film progress down what are mostly predictable lines. The weapon used to deliver the final blows is a nice touch, but there's not too much here that rises above a Lifetime network type suspense thriller. Although the story is just average and isn't that credible, the acting performances are pretty engaging, and production values are good, making it rather easy to go along for the ride.
But, we allowed it, let it go, went with the flow, and allowed ourselves to be dropped directly into the action. After all by starting out so fast, this MUST mean we're going to just drop directly into all the good stuff. We felt high hopes of seeing immediate signs of just how "Whackadoodle" the ex-girlfriend is, especially since it's the basis of the terror and psychologically thrilling situations we feel we were promised by the blurb. For a girl with a fixation on an ex boyfriend, she didn't even have a picture of him in her private office at work.
Okay, since the blurb was convincing, and there was a cat asleep on my lap, we stuck with the movie. And trouble was ahead, because now new girlfriend wants to meet old girlfriend right there in her own bowling alley/bar! So the evil ex starts pouring a lot of tequila shots and now I know there must be something planned, or some poison, or some drugs...some scheme because of the blurb written about the movie, right? Come on! At least a good case of Salmonella from licking salt off the bar while doing shots, right?
Wrong! Time to close and go home everybody! But the new girlfriend is way to drunk to meet the parents (that evil ex told her that his mother might not approve - gasp!) so she insists on going to the local motel. But, the motel desk clerk tells her (gulp) there are no more rooms available, and the next motel is the next town. For some reason, she walks outside into the ice and snow for a minute to look and see if the friendly cousin who's a cop truly left from in front the big window where he dropped her off, and yes, the parking lot really is vacant (hey, I thought the motel was full!) so she tries going back inside but the old man locks up right there in her face. How horrifyingly rude! No cell service to call back the cousin cop with a heart of gold, who just dumped her off without waiting to see if she could even get taken care of on the one busy night of the year (especially with the number-retiring ceremony, you know). So she will just have to walk.
AND THIS MUST BE THE PLACE!!! Young and innocent college girl from a different small town than this one is out drunk, very late at night, on a not-well-travelled country road, with no cell signal, dragging along a suitcase with wheels that keep jamming, in bad weather as icy snow falls on her, trying to find either the bar she just came from where her car is parked (wrong direction) or any other house I'd imagine, and as we know from that stupid blurb there is supposed to be a crazy Whackadoodle out and about who refuses to accept her heroic boyfriend's breakup as a "no" - - Thinking as I write this for you review readers now, I am sure I must be missing some more of the cliche situations this girl is in currently, but putting them together with the time we had already invested (wasted) with the movie, we continued on watching and waiting, because everything was in place for "Homecoming" to deliver on the promise.
Or not. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Because NOW we see the ex in a truck listening to the radio and crying and not paying attention as another vehicle honks her into her own lane, and as she turns from looking backward out her window at the honking vehicle to face forward again, we see the sweet girlfriend waving her own arms in the middle of the lane, not bothering to jump out of the way of a speeding truck as it runs her over until the last possible moment.
And there's one last split-second to get through while we do not know if the truck hits the girlfriend or not. At this point, there are so many terrific plot points to split into that I cannot believe our fantastic fortune in finding a film just like this one. But I DID find a film just like this one...
...with the kinds of intricacies and plot points that were so fantastic and terrifying and realistic and filling every moment with horror as each scene nuanced from its characters the kind of twists and turns of psychothrilling action as never seen before...
Oh WAIT, I did see it before, in another little movie called "Misery". Loved that film. I give it more than five stars and you should buy it if you ever get the chance.
But now back to "Homecoming". I'm not trying to be mean here. This movie had my attention, I gave it way more chances than I should have, and there were actors and plot points that could have worked here. There were a multitude of directions it could go. I've seen a lot of movies try to take off in way too many directions and also movies try to work things through using timing changes that just didn't pull it together. This movie just sat there and didn't take off in any direction. It also tried using time to its advantage but that didn't work at all either. This movie's potential and non-delivery was hugely disappointing.
And STILL we continued watching. At some point, when you have that thing writers call the "willing suspension of disbelief" that you work with all the time in your career life, you find yourself unable to stop yourself from seeing the movie to the end, almost cheering on the characters to, "Get around to it already and DO something!", even though you know it's probably hopeless. I think of it sometimes as that thing where you can't stop watching the car wreck as the police wave you along.
Here's where I can speed up the review, not because the film stopped dragging, but because it began following a storyline that was far to familiar, and I don't find it appropriate to go into that. In fact, I am offended when any one piece of writing so blatantly delivers the ideas from a much, much better work. I thought about it; even wrote out a different review here but then deleted it because my review opinion is this: don't bother.
Don't bother watching a movie that is really pretty crappy and can only begin to try saving its own plot line by following one from a different movie. Instead, rent "Misery". It's a fabulous film, Oscar winning, and the books excellent, too.