If there’s one thing I learnt from Turkish director Can Evrenol, it’s that he’s not afraid of the beautiful and grotesque. A step up in operatic tension from his frankly bonkers and unforgettable debut Baskin (2015), Housewife is bigger, weirder, and messier in every sense of the word.
The story follows the the titular character Holly (the elfin Clémentine Podiatz, with the most expressive eyes this side of 90s Winona Ryder), whose married idyll is threatened by memories of a severe childhood trauma.
To avoid spoilers, I’ll leave it there, especially as Turkish horror doesn’t quite play by the same beats that Hollywood does; this film is simple, short and doesn’t hammer you on the head with exposition, so it’s better to go in blind. It’s an experience: a fantastic visual hellscape of splintered narratives, chilling imagery and that ever-increasing sense of doom. We have no idea where this movie is going, and it’s all the creepier for it.
A bit distracting, though is the choice of using Turkish actors to play mostly Turkish characters but yet speak in English; they sound painfully like they’re reciting lines rather than delivering them, and that noticeably mutes the plausibility of their performances. Additionally, the film gives hints at Holly’s lack of body autonomy, but never takes any opportunity to comment on it, particularly given the film’s title.
These aside, it’s a heady, shocking, nightmarish, fairytale bog of Lynchian proportions, and one of the weirdest birth scenes I’ve ever seen. Despite wearing his influences proudly (Kubrick especially), Evrenol is emerging as a distinctive voice in European horror. It’s exciting to see where he’ll will take us next.