Never underestimate a mother...
I tend to shy away from proof-of-concept films, though when a Jeremiah Kipp film crosses my desk I'm pretty much all in. Kipp directs the 15-minute short film The Housewife, a proof-of-concept film written by Sundance Screenwriters Lab finalist and New York Times bestselling author Kelly A. Turner. Turner also stars in the film as Laura, a "dumb housewife" in an unsatisfying marriage to Brian (Matthew Rashid) with a 5-year-old son named Lucas (Brendan Riley) who appears to be about her only joy in life.
Things go from bad to worse when Laura and her son are kidnapped by Anton (Michael Crowe) and his team, an apparent retribution for a business deal gone wildly bad and for which he wholly plans to exact revenge.
The Housewife is Kipp's first foray into the world of thrillers, though the film often feels like a cousin to Kipp's usual relational horror flicks like Slapface and Black Wake and over the years I've become convinced that Kipp can pretty much direct anything.
There's never really a moment when The Housewife doesn't feel like a proof-of-concept film, dots feel connected to provide key plot points and vital information as the film looks to land as a feature. However, there's easily enough here to say that feels like a realistic goal and it's unsurprising that this thrilling short has already hit several indie fests and should have no trouble continuing its success.
There are several moments here that leave you wanting more and the film's finale is an emotional heart-tugger.
While The Housewife inevitably brings to mind the critically acclaimed Room, Turner's script is unfolds a few more layers and there's clearly quite a bit more going on with Laura. Long dismissed by those around her to the point of her own resignation, this potentially tragic event is seemingly calling her into a strength she's forgotten she possesses. Turner's performance here works, though I'm anxious to see the character and Turner's performance expanded.
The Housewife really soars on the strength of young Brendan Riley's wide-eyed bravado as Lucas, a mix of childhood innocence and superhero strength. Michael Crowe is appropriately smarmy and evil as Anton and Gabi Singh has a brief but emotionally honest turn as Ursula. I must say I was also quite taken by Sweta Keswani's very brief but meaningful appearance toward the film's end.
Original music by Giovanni Spinelli is atmospheric and really establishes a strong tone for the film. Christopher Bye's lensing is dark and intense, the early familial shots practically as emotionally raw as those in the events to later unfold.
The Housewife reminded me of why I tend to shy away from proof-of-concept films. They seem to almost always feel a tad incomplete, though the film also reminds me why I never turn away from a Kipp film. With a unique vision and an eye for maximum effect, Kipp is easily one of the best indie filmmakers working these days and it'll be exciting to watch where he goes with The Housewife in the future.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic