Let’s not pretend anymore that this is a Free for All month. It’s horror through and through – and I for one am loving it.
This week’s pick is very dark and quirky, and that was what Jill and I first bonded over when we started working together on our reviews. We’ve done some seriously bizarre (and brilliant) titles and – going over some of the films we’re explored over the years – I really want to get back to that.
I’m planning a big retrospective about the blog collab (which has been running since 2015!!) – so I’ve been trying to compile a definitive list of every film we’ve ever done. It’s been a lot but is going to be so worth it. But until then, here’s a clever little rumination on suburban life and the pressures of keeping up appearances. Oh and giving away children like sticks of gum, which I fully endorse.
“Julian’s a dog now.”
Greener Grass (2019)
Suburban soccer moms find themselves constantly competing against each other in their personal lives as their kids settle their differences on the field.
Jill Davies (DeBoer) lives in an unnamed suburb that doesn’t look unlike the candy coloured community in Edward Scissorhands. The residents drive golf carts rather than cars, all the adults wear braces and the women dress like Katy Perry 24/7. Jill fits the cookie cutter mold perfectly with two children and a handsome husband, Nick (Bennett). She’s best frenemies with Lisa Wetbottom (Luebbe), who’s in direct competition with her own family, including her demonic son Bob (who’s excellent). One glimpse at this suburban landscape tells us there’s something seriously wrong bubbling beneath the veneer and boy, we don’t know the half of it.
While Jill obviously enjoys life as the neighbourhood Alpha, her son Julian is kicking against the pressures of expectation. A frequent pant-wetter, he’s also terrible at sports and the piano. At the opening football match, he’s very much not having a good time, which doesn’t sit well with his mother. Lisa’s own son Bob shows even more dramatic behaviours but neither family unit seems perturbed. During the same game, Lisa idly declares she loves Jill’s cute new baby Madison. Jill asks her friend if she’d like to keep the baby in that case, and passes her over as easily as one would a hair clip.
And so starts a rather twisted downward spiral for Jill, who’s crown starts to gradually slip. During the conversation she has with Nick, in which she admits she’s given Madison away, he simply asks her to consider discussing it with him next time. He’s more concerned when she goes off-piste with her dinner choice that evening.
When Julian turns into a Golden Retriever half way through a touching rendition of Happy Birthday to his father, it’s clear that Nick will be happier with a pet than a son, loudly declaring “Julian just got awesome!” – which isn’t a lie and frankly, is totally understandable. Unfortunately for the women, their men are so bland that they don’t even notice when they end up making out with each other’s husbands at a BBQ.
While Jill laments giving away her baby daughter, and adjusts to having a dog for a son, Lisa develops a secret crush on Nick, who’s superior to her husband Dennis (Casey), although how can you tell? Meanwhile, the community’s been rocked by the brutal murder of a young yoga teacher by the bagging guy at the local grocery store. Will he strike again?
And will Jill ever get her daughter back? It seems the foundations of her marriage aren’t built to withstand the weight of her life decisions and she also misses human Julian. Lisa, however, is thriving and at yet another football match, becomes pregnant with the ball and gives birth to new baby, “Twilson”. When she casually suggests that Jill should ask Nick for a divorce, Jill does so despite not being able to tell him why.
Are we witnessing a shift in power between friends? I would say very much yes we are and it’s delicious.
This is a very unusual film and I would think quite an acquired taste. It’s hard to get humour this dark right and given it’s horror elements, the fact it works is very pleasing, but could have been very different. I love the comments it’s making about perfection and power – about keeping up with the Joneses and honestly some segments are a scream. The vigil for the dead teacher is fucking brilliant and I genuinely loved it. There are also a couple of exchanges between the main and side characters that tickled me.
There is a lot to unpack in the meaning but it uses colour and the status symbols of suburban success, such as super green grass (huh) very well. By the end of Greener Grass the roles of the two friends have all but flipped, to the point they’re each wearing the outfit the other started in. Although it’s grossly exaggerated, there’s some truth in the need to please all the time and who hasn’t ended up doing something they’d rather not just to keep face?
Again, I’m not sure everybody would be into this humour but I loved it.
– Genres: Comedy ∙ Horror
– IMDb user rating: 6.3
– My score: 4/5
– Runtime: 95 mins