Homecoming -- Film Review

Echoes of Stephen King's "Misery" reverberate not so subtly in "Homecoming," an unmitigated B-movie that isn't thrilling enough or cheesy enough to make it worth the trip.

Although "O.C." party girl Mischa Barton makes for convincing damaged goods, director Morgan J. Freeman (no relation to the Oscar-winning actor) commits to neither sufficient suspense nor a substantial camp element to warrant a big-screen stopover en route to what should be a quick trip to DVD.

Barton plays the brittle Shelby, the proverbial homecoming queen destined to live happily ever after with the high school star quarterback.

Only hitch is, said prodigal son, Mike (Matt Long), has returned to his blue-collar hometown for Christmas break, having received a scholarship to Northwestern University, and he's brought along his new gf, pretty, rich girl Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup).

To say Shelby isn't taking the situation well is an understatement, and, as fate would have it, a freak accident leaves Elizabeth incapacitated and in Shelby's questionable care.

Although the stage is neatly set for some Grand Guignol-style ax-wielding, Freeman never manages to impart much in the way of visual style or energy to the heavily derivative script, credited to Jake Goldberger, Katie Fetting and Frank M. Hannah.

As Barton gets in touch with her inner Bette Davis circa "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?" Stroup, a regular on the new "90210," effectively is grounded as her hobbled houseguest, but ultimately the young cast gets tripped up in the ensuing silliness.

Opens: Friday, July 17 (Paper Street Films)
Production: Paper Street Films, Animus Films
Cast: Mischa Barton, Jessica Stroup, Matt Long
Director: Morgan J. Freeman
Screenwriters: Jake Goldberger, Katie Fetting, Frank M. Hannah Executive producers: Benji Kohn, Chris Papavasiliou, Richard Bard, Nuala Barton
Producers: Jim Young, Austin Stark, Bill Papariella, Bingo Gubelmann
Director of photography: Stephen Kazmierski
Production designer: Mark White
Music: Peter Nashel, Jack Livesey
Costume designer: Teresa Duncan
Editor: Keith Reamer
No rating, 88 minutes