It’s a tale as old as time: socialite wife convinces her sidepiece boy toy to help her kill her seemingly distant and negligent husband. Boy toy reluctantly agrees to help, and hilarity ensues. We’ve all been there. Zachary Burns takes this seemingly classic premise and channels it into Hell Hath No Fury.
Hell Hath No Fury is the story of Priscilla Brewster, an aloof and pouty suburban housewife who is plotting to kill her husband Silas with the help of her lover Thomas, a sweetly naïve bystander in this insane train wreck of a relationship. Silas is, at first, the ideal husband: he’s doting, sensitive, thoughtful, considerate of his wife’s needs. So much so that even Thomas thinks maybe they should just not kill him because he’s outwardly a good guy. Nonetheless, they attempt to enlist the help of one of Thomas’ friends (“Carl. Just Carl.”) And, predictably, when that does work, things quickly devolve into a bizarre neo-noir black comedy that feels like a mix of David Lynch and the Coen Brothers.
The film is strikingly utilitarian, both in run time, exposition, pacing, and setting. It all takes place in one house on one floor and wastes no time in hitting the ground running with the weird almost off-putting humor. Leah Philpott and Jacob Snovel absolutely chew the scenery in a way that would become unbearably cheesy in a lesser film, but in this case it’s quite clear that the stage play style melodrama is intentional. Think of the precise soap opera intensity of Twin Peaks and you’ll get an idea of how this film feels at times. It might not be for everyone and might become grating after a while, but personally I only think it added to the unreal absurdity of the film overall.
There are a few somewhat predictable twists, but predictable does not equate to boring; even though they’re telegraphed from miles out they’re still a delight to watch unfold. The film quickly unravels into a circus of ridiculousness made more so by the continued earnestness of the actors’ delivery. It’s a very fun movie and at 70 minutes absolutely doesn’t overstay its welcome. It knows what it wants to do, it does enough to accomplish that and not a second more, and then it gracefully exits the building. There is something of a fun little wraparound story that makes this more than just a traditional linear narrative, but it’s subtle enough to not come off as pretentious or unnecessary.
This isn’t a life-changing film by any means, but it’s fun enough to keep your attention and absolutely entertaining. I cannot stress how it knows exactly what it is and at no point tries to overreach with any sort of technical acrobatics or deeper messaging. The film’s message is simple: marriage can be hell and trying to get out of that hell can be equally maddening.