The Horror Honeys: Forget Alex Forrest... Watch out for Alexandra!

Forget Alex Forrest... Watch out for Alexandra!

A Revenge Honey Review

Alexandra's Project (2003)

It's rare that I can say I have genuinely waited over a decade to see a movie. Don't Deliver Us from Evil would probably be on that list. But other than that, I don't often stay interested in a movie that long, mostly because I've discovered that with time, expectations get inflated. This is usually to my own detriment. However, one additional exception to the "waiting forever" rule was Australian film, Alexandra's Project. I heard about it not long after it was released because of how unbelievably controversial it was. And now that I have finally seen it, I can say that:

1) It totally lived up to my expectations.
2) It wasn't that shocking. But maybe I'm numb?

But I will say, if you thought Fatal Attraction was a cautionary tale about crossing a woman, you haven't seen anything yet...

The Plot: (I am going to be very careful about revealing details here, because I think the tension of this movie is half of its appeal.) Steve thinks he has it all: wonderful children, a loving wife, a fabulous job. So when he arrives home on his birthday to discover a surprise VHS tape made by his wife, Alexandra, he can't wait to see what it holds. Unfortunately, Alexandra has some secrets. And she plans on letting Steve know just why his life isn't what it seems, setting him up for a very unhappy birthday indeed.

Explaining just what it is about this film that is so mind-blowing without giving away spoilers is not easy. But I will do my best. Almost all of this marital revenge film is carried by its two leading stars and their performances are remarkable: specifically that of Helen Buday as Alexandra. Not only does she spend the majority of the film on camera, but the bulk of that time, she's naked. In most cases, this might seem gratuitous, but in Alexandra's Project, it not only suits the story, but gives Buday's performance an air of vulnerability that is astounding.

But never mistake Alexandra's vulnerability as weakness. Whether or not you agree with her actions throughout the film, it becomes clear early on that she is totally in control. I have read critiques of this film as "feminist propaganda," but I saw it as a logical 00's extension of the lessons learned from Fatal Attraction. Men may have been terrified by the prospect of stabbed or having their bunny boiled, but Alexandra's Project shows that are far worse fates waiting for a man that pushes a woman just an inch too far.

This film is most decidedly not for everyone. It is slow, but I found it to be paced expertly given the subject matter. When it was over, I wasn't 100% sure who the villain was, which I think is a astoundingly rare place to find yourself at the end of a movie. It is honest, full of tension, and wonderfully acted. Rolf de Heer's direction is even-handed and despite the fact we feel early on that Alexandra is the wronged party, de Heer is careful not to choose sides. Even when you're shocked at one party's behavior, you are left wondering just what it would take to drive you to your limits. While I may not have found it controversial, or shocking in a visceral sense, it absolutely shook me to my core.

What more can you ask of a movie that you waited 11 years to see?

Revenge Honey Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 Bummer Birthday Gifts