Married to a successful writer, Doctor Timuçin Erguvan, living together outside Istanbul having returned after several years in New York, to those looking through the tall plate glass windows of her luxurious rural home it seems like Holly is content, but she is detached from her husband and her life, lying to him about sharing his desire to have children and still traumatised by the murder of her father and older sister Hazel at the hands of her mother which she witnessed as a child, narrowly escaping herself.
Forever scarred by the memory of that dark winter night, the surprise visit of a former friend from New York opens both old wounds and a door to healing, Valerie now part of Umbrella of Love and Mind, a new age movement built around the commanding personality of Bruce O’Hara, holding a seminar in a prestigious hotel in the city to which Holly and Tim are invited where it swiftly becomes apparent their host is fully aware of Holly’s dark past and determined that she become a part of “the family.”
Writer and director Can Evrenol’s debut feature Baskin having presented a mesmerising yet unremitting descent into the depths of hell, co-written with Cem Özüduru Housewife is on the surface more restrained and accessible, its mysteries taking another form and saving the excesses of horror for the more extreme sequences though were she not emotionally blindsided by his performance it would be immediately apparent to Holly (Mars‘ Clémentine Poidatz) that the attempts of the charismatic Bruce (Liza the Fox-Fairy‘s David Sakurai) to charm her into his apocalyptic UFO cult are for his benefit rather than hers.
Elevated above other long-term followers who have yet to be selected to join the inner circle yet who celebrate the healing they have witnessed as though vicariously basking in its cleansing power, it is important to Bruce that Holly accepts him willingly; a man accustomed to always getting exactly what he wants, his interests parallel the investigations into belief in the paranormal written about by Tim (Ali Aksöz) but with a disturbingly view to the practical aspects, and anyone who stands in the way of his plan is an obstacle to be removed.
Baskin almost entirely a film of men trapped in an increasingly hostile and alien environment, Housewife is largely a story of women, Holly and the inescapable presences of her sister and mother and her grand but imperious grandmother whose portrait loomed over her childhood, creating the illusion that she is in control of her environment in the elaborate dollhouse she has constructed but manipulated both in past and present by ties she cannot comprehend or sever, reluctant to be a mother but suitable as a host.
The dialogue entirely spoken in English, it is obvious this is Evrenol’s first time crafting a feature in a second language with the bland conversations between Holly and Valerie (Alicia Kapudag) missing the colour and shaded depth of the film’s visual aspects, resembling scenes written for teenagers but incongruously performed by adults in Argento’s original Suspiria, not the only homage to the stylised motifs of giallo offered alongside a few dashes of Cronenberg, Lynch, Lovecraft and even The Lion King as Holly’s ingrained fears rise from the tainted waters, tumbling her into fragments of a dream where her life is a book whose final chapters are blank.
Housewife is currently available on Prime Video in the United States