A Husband’s Worst Nightmare Comes From Down Under
There is a little-known Australian flick that came out several years ago, though I have only come across it recently. Alexandra’s Project offers a horrific insight into the nightmarish possibilities of suburban domesticity. Its raw, unflinching, and unapologetic crassness play on some of the worst fears that the insecure creatures known as married men have. This film takes the rotten core of a troubled relationship and exposes it to the person oblivious of problems within the marriage, the husband. It is a warning to men that the person you are taking for granted might be capable of far more than you have given her credit for. While you are fantasizing about other women and thinking about how great your life could be without the responsibility of a wife and kids, she may be plotting an absolutely devastating and destructive revenge.
Many films have shown us the cancerous underbelly of the outwardly happy existences of suburban life: Blue Velvet, American Beauty, and countless others. This film, however, delves to a depth of malice and deceit that others have only hinted at—even Blue Velvet. This film specifically defines the horrors. It is akin to finally giving shape to the “unnamable” horrors Lovecraft wrote about.
Alexandra’s Project is a minimalist production with most of the scenes shot in continuity so that even the editing in minimal. The moody, dark atmosphere is rife with dread and anxiety. When Steve comes home from work on his birthday, the lights to his domicile don’t work. Convinced that it is a ruse for his birthday, Steve continues into the house to find a chair and a homemade video. Alexandra has a birthday present for Steve and a striptease that only a husband could appreciate. Actress Helen Buday is absolutely fearless in this scene. It is this particular scene that drove several actresses away from the film. It is honestly one of the most courageous and raw pieces of acting I have ever seen. With her far from perfect body, showing sign of age, child-rearing, and neglect, Alexandra awkwardly dances and gyrates for Steve. She giggles and titters because this is her first striptease, and she is nervous, but she’s plodding on because she knows he’ll love it. For a scene that is set up to be a treat for our protagonist, it is charged with tension and discomfort before we even know that anything is amiss. The scene is shot appropriately amateurish and acted brilliantly by Buday.
That is the end of Steve’s happiness, however. What comes next is not unthinkable; it is the fear at the core of every married man. Alexandra finds the worst possible actions she can take and executes them perfectly. After all is said and done, there are few characters in all of fiction that have been so totally eviscerated as Steve. Hours later, as you are still pondering the sheer horrible completeness of Alexandra’s project for Steve, you still probably won’t know whether you feel sorry for Steve or not. It is likely, however, that whatever pity or empathy you felt early on for Alexandra will be stripped away, and abruptly. Many of you who watch this may say that Steve received his comeuppance. The few of you who empathize with or idolize Alexandra should seek help, you sadists you.