Greener Grass (4 stars)

Greener Grass

Hilarious satire of suburbia, created by and starring Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe

Suburban America becomes a pastel-hued hellscape in the debut feature from Jocelyn DeBoer and Dawn Luebbe. Combining Lynchian nightmare with a broadly comedic bent, the pair return to the territory of their 2015 short (directed by Paul Briganti) in a film that sees desperate housewives trade exceptional manners for malevolent stares.

Soccer moms Jill and Lisa – played by DeBoer and Luebbe – are all smiles when we meet them, but the faltering grin that accompanies the opening credits is one of the many signs that all is not well; Jill gives her baby away early on in response to Lisa's evident envy and things only get weirder from there, as the duo contend with disappointing offspring and dim-witted spouses (played by Saturday Night Live performer Beck Bennett and former writer Neil Casey).

Greener Grass exists on such a heightened, gag-rich plane it's like an extended SNL sketch, yet the hit-rate is such that it easily sustains your interest for the duration. The absurdism, too, keeps you on your toes and there are lots of winning touches: a running joke about Jill's husband Nick's obsession with pool water; a series of glimpsed TV programmes, including the powerfully corrupting 'Kids with Knives'. DeBoer delivers a masterclass in pained politeness as her best friend contrives to steal her life, while local villain the 'bagger murderer' – responsible for the slaying of a yoga instructor – has her own dastardly part to play.

Rather than snipe at mommy vloggers and tech dependency, Greener Grass takes a retro tack: it's like a dreamy, demented Stepford Wives-esque spoof with a touch of stalk-and-slash thrown in. Although there are modern elements, many of its targets are evergreen – the quest for peer approval amongst them – and the indistinct time period only adds to the enjoyable eccentricity.

DeBoer and Luebbe cleverly exploit what is clearly a very tight budget, something they embrace for humorous effect – for example in a restaurant scene straight out of an old-fashioned sitcom. It might feel a little rough round the edges but, for a first feature, makes for quite the introduction; like the backstabbers in their sights, this pair are clearly ones to watch.

Limited release from Fri 22 Nov.

Greener Grass

  • 4 stars
  • 2019
  • 1h 35min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe
  • Cast: Jocelyn DeBoer, Dawn Luebbe, Beck Bennett
  • UK release: 22 November 2019

Jill (DeBoer) and Lisa (Luebbe) are would-be perfect soccer moms for whom all is not well. Combining Lynchian nightmare with a broadly comic bent, it’s like a demented spoof of Stepford Wives, and writer/directors DeBoer and Luebbe cleverly exploit an ultra-tight budget with enjoyably eccentric effect.

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