The emotional nuances of a relationship falling apart condense first into an eeriness before solidifying into a full blown horror fest. A relationship going bad follows the illogical, meandering paths of the participants’ imaginations. First, it’s the little irritations and angers that one can barely put one’s finger on. On the flip side, as things go sour, there are the little excuses one tells oneself trying to take an optimistic stand. The contradiction is compellingly depicted here.
From the start, Howard narrates with honesty and foreboding:
I know Julie loved me once. I know it as fact, like the warmth of sunshine on my skin.
. . . We married the day after graduation, exchanging vows in the campus church . . . All of our friends attended. It is a day I will never forget, because it was the happiest we ever were. The happiest we would ever be.
The demise of the marriage of Howard and Julie tilts and careens recklessly from silent truce to grating bitterness. Howard’s obvious obliviousness to his own antiquated sexism erodes Julie’s respect for him despite his successful career. Her own lack of success fuels her insecurities.
Despite the clear breakdown, the couple decide to have a baby in an effort to mend the family. Because that never goes wrong . . .
Not that this is an “American Beauty” style domestic horror. It’s not, despite Howard’s affair. No, when the horror comes, it’s Lovecraftian or Kafkaesque in nature. Transformative, irreversible horror.